Carbohydrate Is an Excellent Energy Source How Much Carbohydrate Do We

We are eating more calories today than in the past several decades and carbohydrates are making a greater contribution to those calories. In countries such as the United States and Canada, about half of the energy adults eat comes by way of carbohydrates. About half of this carbohydrate is in the form of starch and the other half in the form of simple sugars. Sucrose makes up about half of the simple sugars we eat. In other areas of the world, such as Africa and Asia, sucrose consumption makes a lesser contribution while grains (for example, wheat and rice), fruits, and vegetables make a greater contribution.

The carbohydrate content of certain types of food is listed in Table 4.3. This includes easily digested carbohydrates such as sugars and starches, as well as carbohydrates that not easily digested such as oligosaccharides and fibers. Looking at this table we see that "sweets" such as candies and cakes are among those with the highest content of carbohydrate. Furthermore, nearly all of the carbohydrate in these foods comes by way of caloric sweeteners, primarily sucrose for baked sweets, which is added as a recipe ingredient.

Carbohydrates contribute half of the calories consumed in countries such as the US and Canada.

Fruits may be somewhat deceiving, according to Table 4.3, as their carbohydrate content is listed as roughly 5 to 20 percent. However, keep in mind that their water content makes up most of the remaining weight. Therefore carbohydrate is the major non-water content of fruits. Cereal grains and products such as rice, oats, pastas, and breads also have

Table 4.3 Carbohydrate Content of Select Foods

Food

Carbohydrate (% Weight)

Sugar

100

Ice cream, cake, pie

40-50

Fruits and vegetables

5-20

Nuts

<10

Peanut butter

<10

Milk

5

Cheese

1

Shellfish and other fish

<1

Meat, poultry, eggs

<1

Butter

0

Oils

0

relatively high carbohydrate content. Conversely, animal foods such as meats, fish, and poultry (and eggs) are virtually void of carbohydrate. Animal flesh (skeletal muscle) does contain a little carbohydrate, primarily as glycogen. However, the glycogen is lost during the processing of the meat. As mentioned above, milk and some dairy products (yogurt, ice cream) are the only significant animal-derived carbohydrate providers.

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