Cells in the human body relies on glucose for fuel. The role of carbohydrates is to provide this glucose so that human body cells can carry out their necessary functions. Additionally, carbohydrate helps in preserving muscles and store energy for later use.

What is the Definition of Carbohydrates?

Carbohydrate is the sugar, starch and fibre found in regular food items like fruits, grains and dairy products. It is one of the three micronutrients via which a human body obtains energy. The properties of carbohydrates biology include carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms at its chemical level.
Examples of carbohydrate foods are milk, yoghurt, bread, rice, potatoes, corn, whole fruits or fruit juice, candies, cookies, etc.

Types of Carbohydrate

There are two types of carbohydrates, simple and complex. This division is primarily based on their chemical structure along with their degree of polymerisation.

  • Simple Carbohydrates

Simple carbohydrates carry one or two molecules of sugar. Such examples of carbohydrates are found abundantly in dairy products, refined sugar etc. Since these carbohydrates do not comprise any fibre, vitamin or mineral, they are regarded as empty calories.
Simple carbohydrates can be further divided into three categories. These are –
Monosaccharides: Carbohydrates consisting of one sugar molecule are called monosaccharides. The structural illustration of carbohydrate of this category is as follows –
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Monosaccharides can be further classified based on the number of carbon atoms. These are trioses, tetroses, pentoses, hexoses and heptoses.
Disaccharides: Two monosaccharides combine to form a disaccharides. Sucrose, Lactose, Maltose are some of the prime examples of this carbohydrate.
Oligosaccharides: Carbohydrates consisting of 2-9 monomers are classified as oligosaccharides.

  • Complex Carbohydrate

Complex carbohydrates are made up of two or more molecules of sugar. Such carbohydrates are found abundantly in food items like corn, lentils, peanuts, beans, etc. Complex carbohydrates are also known as polysaccharides as they are formed due to polymerisation.

Primary Functions of Carbohydrate

  • Provides the Necessary Fuel

The primary role of carbohydrates is to provide fuel to the human body cells, the central nervous system and the working muscles. The carbohydrate that individuals consume via food items are digested and broken down to glucose before it enters the bloodstream.
This glucose helps in producing ATPs, and body cells use these ATPs to perform various metabolic tasks.

  • Stores Energy

The excess glucose is then stored for future purposes. This form of glucose is known as glycogen, and it is mainly found in the liver and muscles.

  • Preserve Muscles

In case of a deficiency of glucose from carbohydrates, the human body breaks muscles cells into amino acids. It is then converted into glucose to provide the necessary energy to the central nervous system. Therefore, one of the most vital applications of carbohydrates is to preserve body muscles.

Consequences of Carbohydrate Deficiency

  • Not consuming any forms of carbohydrate can cause serious health issues. Without sufficient energy, the human body struggles to function. For instance, when the central nervous system struggles to operate, it can cause dizziness. Additionally, individuals can experience mental and physical fatigue as well.
  • Moreover, in the absence of glucose produced from carbohydrates, the human body uses protein for energy. This is not an ideal situation, because if protein is used as a source of energy, it can put a strain on kidneys.
  • Furthermore, a lack of carbohydrate in the diet can cause digestive problems.

Carbohydrates can be further classified into two types based on its nutritional value. Here is a competitive study of both –

Good Carbs and Bad Carbs

Good Carbs Bad Carbs
Consist of low or moderate calories Have high calories
Nutrients are high Nutrients are low
Have a high amount of natural fibre Low in fibre
Low in sodium High in sodium
Consists low amount of saturated and trans fat Have a high amount of saturated and trans fat

Understanding the role of carbohydrates in the proper functioning of a human body is extremely important. Additionally, it is a vital topic of biology and this article offers a comprehensive take on this subject.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

  1. Define Carbohydrates with Examples

Ans. Carbohydrate is one of the three micronutrients through which a human body acquires energy. It consists of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms at its chemical level. Examples of carbohydrate are glucose, starch, lactose, etc.

  1. What are Simple Carbohydrates Called?

Ans. Simple carbohydrates are also called simple sugar, as it consists of one or two molecules of sugar. It is found in dairy products, candies, refined sugar, fruits etc. in large quantities.

  1. What are the Primary Functions of Carbohydrate?

Ans. There are three primary functions of carbohydrate. Firstly, it aids in producing energy for body cells and central nervous system. Secondly, it stores energy for future use. The last notable use of carbohydrates is that it preserves human body muscles from being used as a source of energy.

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