Carbohydrates, to charge your body

These are the major sources of energy in all human diets. In India, 70-80% of total dietary calories are derived from carbohydrates. They provide 4kcal energy per gram.

Owing to the fact that carbohydrates are the major energy providers, these become an important part in our everyday meal. They not only provide energy, they also aid in regulating blood glucose, break down fatty acids and increase the satiety value. Talking about the importance of carbohydrates, apart from its direct benefits, there is also an added advantage of carbohydrate consumption and that is that carbohydrates are found in different foods, which if eaten, also pave way for consuming other essential nutrients.

In general, carbohydrates are in different forms such as sugars, starches and dietary fiber which has varied benefits on health.

Sugars, a class of simple carbohydrates are those consisting of relatively small saccharides which provide instantaneous energy to our body. Both monosaccharide (simple sugars) and disaccharide (double sugars) such as glucose, fructose, sucrose etc., present in fruits, vegetables, honey, sugar and also lactose in milk enter the bloodstream fast and thereby supply energy.

Starches, a class of complex carbohydrates (polysaccharides) are those which helps with the feeling of fullness and in maintaining blood glucose level. These complex polysaccharides present as starches in cereals, millets, pulses and root vegetables and glycogen in animal foods.

Dietary fibers are class of indigestible carbohydrates that has unique roles to play in our body. From increasing satiety to relieving constipation, dietary fiber has a list of proven benefits.

Glycaemic index

It is useful to understand glycaemic index, especially for people with diabetes to choose the right carbohydrate for your body.

The glycaemic index (GI) concept is based on the difference in blood glucose response after ingestion of the same amount of carbohydrates from different foods, and possible implications of these differences for health, performance and well-being. A high GI is generally accompanied by a high insulin response. Therefore, knowing which food has high GI and which has low help you choose food wisely.

Low GI foods (20-49)

Moderate GI foods (50-69)

High GI foods (70-100)

All Bran, oats, barley, rye, wheat

Bran buds

Corn flakes, rice

Almonds, peanut, walnut, sunflower seeds


Dates, pineapple, watermelon

Apple, apricot, strawberry

Banana, mango, raisins, kiwi, orange

Potato, tapioca

Tomato, broccoli, lettuce, mushroom

Kidney beans, green peas

Soda, sweet tea

Chick peas, green beans,  lentils

Pasta, pizza

Most bread, Chocolates, pastries, jam and jellies