Carbohydrate is an organic compound, and its general formula is Cm(h20)n. It comprises of carbon, oxygen and hydrogen. The carbohydrate is divided into four special chemical groups, and those are disaccharides, Monosaccharides, polysaccharides and oligosaccharides. In generic sense, disaccharides and monosaccharides are smaller and termed as sugar. Carbohydrates help in performing various roles in food sector.
Polysaccharides act as structural component and energy storage area. Monosaccaries are simplest form of carbohydrate and used as fuel for metabolism. It is used both in biosynthesis and as energy source. In case, the human body does not need monosaccharides directly, then it is transformed into polysaccharides. Here, the storage acts as glycogen, especially in muscle cells and liver.
Types of carbohydrate:
As per the molecular size, carbohydrate is differentiated into two sections: complex and simple.
- Simple carbohydrate: Different forms of sugar, like sucrose and glucose, are termed as simple carbohydrates. The sizes of these molecules are small and can be broken down easily, and absorbed by human body. It helps in increasing blood sugar level quickly, when compared with complex carbohydrate. Some products, which comprise of simple carbohydrate, are dairy products, fruits, maple syrup and honey. It offers a sweet taste in some cakes and candies.
- Complex carbohydrate: Here, the carbohydrates are composed using longer strings of simple carbohydrates. As the sizes of these molecules are larger, they are broken down into simple molecule before absorption. It helps to provide energy to body in a slow manner, and is converted to fatty molecules. These molecules help in increasing blood sugar level slowly. Some examples of complex carbohydrates are fibers and starches, and available in wheat products, root vegetables, beans and other grains.
Refined carbohydrates and their significance:
Carbohydrates are further categorized as refined or unrefined. Refined; when the food is highly processed. If the product comprises of bran, fiber, minerals or vitamins, these minerals will be stripped off. It means, your body will be able to process carbohydrate quickly, however the refined food products have added minerals and vitamins so as to increase the nutritional values. A diet with high refined carbohydrates might increase the risk of diabetes and obesity.
Functional attributes of carbohydrates in the food industry:
Both slow and fast releasing carbohydrates are used in food industry, for providing functional attributes. It comprises of viscosity, sweetness, coating ability, bulk, consistency, solubility, body, texture and browning capacity. Differences in chemical structure are mostly seen in various carbohydrates and are conferred in different functional uses. Gums, starches and pectins are used in cakes, jams, noodles, cookies and canned food as thickening agents.
Alginate is a slow releasing carbohydrate, which provides texture and shape to fascinate food creation. Simple sugar is used for adding sweetness, consistency, texture and browning. In some food items, like ice-cream, corn syrup and sucrose is combined to impart sweetness, smooth texture and a glossy appearance.
Recommendation for a healthy livelihood:
Food Bodies around the globe recommend that people should incorporate carbohydrate in their diet; between 40% and 60% of the total calories. It is best to avail these calories from natural sugars and complex carbohydrates. Apart from calories, complex carbohydrates offer minerals, vitamins and fiber.
To increase intake of healthy nutrients and complex carbohydrates, experts suggest to:
- Incorporate green vegetables and eat fruits
- Eat breads, whole grain rice and cereals
- Add legumes in your diet, like lentils, beans and dried peas
About glycemic index:
The carbohydrate glycemic index represents quick consumption for increasing blood sugar level. The values will range between 1 and 100. The glycemic index must be lower for complex carbohydrates, when compared with simple carbohydrate.