Examples of Carbohydrates -8 Functions and types of Carbohydrates

Examples of Carbohydrates -8 Functions and types of Carbohydrates


Food is a substance that is taken into the body. It digests, gets absorbed, assimilated and used by the body to perform its function. The food we eat contains so many nutrients. These nutrients can be classified into macronutrients and micronutrients. These nutrients are six in number. Carbohydrate is one of the six nutrients.

Definition of Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are food that mainly supplies the body with energy. They are generally referred to as energy giving food. Carbohydrate constitutes the largest portion of foods consumed in the world. Carbohydrate has to be supplied to the body for proper functioning especially the nervous system.

They are known as the fuel of the body. They belong to the class of nutrients known as macronutrients. Macronutrients in the sense that they are required in large amount by the living thing (plants and animals). They contain sugar, starch and cellulose.

The chemical makes up of carbohydrates are Carbon (C), Hydrogen (H), and Oxygen (O) atoms. Carbohydrates are bimolecular in nature.

Functions of Carbohydrates in the body:

The following are functions that carbohydrates perform in the body.

  1. Carbohydrate supplies energy (ability to do work) needed for cellular activities, work and so on.
  2. It helps in the regulating of glucose to the bloodstream and other systems of the body.
  3. They help in maintaining a healthy digestive system
  4. It assists in the breaking down of fatty acids.
  5. Carbohydrates prevent ketosis.
  6. It spares the use of protein for the body to use.
  7. Carbohydrates that are rich in fibre prevent constipation.
  8. They satisfy hunger.

Types of Carbohydrates:

There are four types of carbohydrates namely: Monosaccharides, Disaccharides, Polysaccharides and Oligosaccharides.

Monosaccharides: Mono means one, saccharide means. They are carbohydrates that have one sugar components. They exist in the simplest form and can be called simple sugar. Monosaccharides are easily broken down or digested.

They are glucose( found in oranges, carrots, berries, tangerines), fructose ( found in ripe fruits, sugarcane, honey and sweetest sugar.

Disaccharides: These are a complex form of carbohydrates. They are made up of two molecules of monosaccharides joined together. They contain sucrose, lactose and maltose. Sucrose is found in sugar cane, brown sugar, some fruits and vegetables.

Lactose contains glucose and galactose. It can be found in milk. Maltose contains glucose. It can be found in fermented grains ad cereals like beer.

Oligosaccharides: These are complex carbohydrates that consist of three to ten sugar. Digestion of food rich in oligosaccharides is hard.

Polysaccharides: These are complex compounds of many monosaccharides. They are starch, dextrins, inulins, glycogen, cellulose, pectins, agar and alginates.

Examples of Carbohydrates

1. Plant sources of carbohydrates: These are plants that have carbohydrate content in them. They are yam, rice, cassava, sugar cane, potato.

(a) Yam as a plant has so many varieties that also give the body carbohydrates. They are white yam, yellow yam, water yam, Chinese yam, bulb yam, sweet yam. Yam can be boiled, pounded and fried. Yam can be fried and made into what Is known as yam flour.

(b) Potato also have their varieties. They are Red potato, white potato, yellow potato, purple potato, fingers potato, oblong potato and Irish potato. Potato can be boiled and fried.

(c) Grains are another source of carbohydrates. Examples are rice, oat, corn, wheat, barley, sorghum, etc. Corn also be called maize. Varieties of corn include white corn, yellow corn, dent corn, flint corn, popcorn, sweet corn, red corn and popcorn. Some of the grains are used in producing food like cornflake, quaker oat, custard and golden morn.

(d) Cassava is a tuber plant that contains carbohydrate. It is usually processed into garri and fofo.
(e) Cocoyam is also food that contains carbohydrate.
(f) Banana has a low amount of carbohydrate.

Other sources of carbohydrates are from processed or baked food. Although this baked food contains other nutrients, the main ingredient is made up of carbohydrate. Examples of processed food are meat pie, bread, spring roll, buns, egg roll, gala, pancake, puff puff, shawarma, chin chin, cake and so on. Manufactured foods like spaghetti, macaroni, noodles.

In addition, carbonated drinks have some amount of carbohydrates as it gives the body energy. They are Pepsi, Coke, LaCasera, Fanta, Seven Up, Ribena and other fruit juice.

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