Carbs: All are not Bad

When the humans were evolving they didn’t know the art of agriculture. So they didn’t know to grow the edible plants. At this stage their diet was obtained from killing the animas. Thus their diet consisted mainly of fats and proteins. When agriculture was established, then humans added the carbohydrates into their food menu.

Carbs or Carbohydrates have become much maligned food from sometime. Many people say they are not good for health. These are mostly sugars. Sugars they say lead to diabetes, obesity and tooth decay.

Carbohydrates are one of the three essential categories of food along with fats and proteins. Carbohydrates provide energy to the body, fats also provide energy and fat and proteins build the bony structure of the body.

What are the carbohydrates?

Chemically carbohydrates are compounds made from Carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. There are many categories of the carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are synthesized in nature by plants and trees by a process called photosynthesis. This way they convert carbon dioxide and water into Glucose which is the starting material for making higher or complex carbohydrates like disaccharides, starches and cellulose. Human beings can’t digest cellulose.


Monosaccharides are the simplest sugars. Two of the most popular ones are Glucose and Fructose. Whereas Glucose contains only sugar, Fructose contains vitamins and minerals alongwith sugar. These are derived mostly from fruits. Thus Fructose are better than glucose.


Disaccharide means their skeleton is made of two Glucose units. Examples are Sucrose, lactose and maltose.


Starches are very complex molecules made from large numbers of Glucose units joined together. These are obtained from grains like wheat, barley and maize etc. Due to their complex structure, they are slow to breakdown into human consumable monomers.

How Carbohydrates provide energy?

Carbohydrates are like fuel in a vehicle. Carbohydrates are oxidised by Oxygen we inhale. During oxidation energy is released alongwith water and carbondioxide which are exhaled and again caught by plants and trees for making sugars for themselves and humans and animals.

Why body prefers carbohydrates than fat?

Fat provides about thrice the energy than same amount of carbohydrate. Even then body prefers it especially for giving instant energy to the brain. The reason is the ease with which carbohydrates can be broken down into energy. Also the byproducts are easy to get rid by the body.

Complex carbohydrates like starch take much longer to get hydrolyzed. First of all when we eat them, an enzyme called Amylase which is present in our saliva catalysis the starch breakdown in the belly. Thus the breakdown is slow and not instant and sustained over a longer period of time thus providing lower but sustained amounts of energy.

So in the nutshell the whole foods grains are better and useful to be taken. Carbohydrates from these are not harmful but useful.

Plantains and Bananas!!

Banana is the most consumed fruit in the world. It is very easy to eat. Just peel and eat. It is an instant source of energy. Sportsmen love it. It can be eaten in the form of milkshakes or as such. It is any time fruit.

Banana and Plantains look very similar. But in fact they have some subtle differences which make them suitable for different food recipes. Nutritionally there is not much difference between them. Plantains grow in Central Africa, the Caribbean, and other tropical regions, and they’re commonly used in Latin, African, and Caribbean cuisine.

As the bananas and Plantains begin ripening their colours start changing from green to yellow to black. Sweetness also increases in the same way.

Plantains are longer in size than Bananas. A plantain is almost double (12″) as compared to a banana (about 6″). Plantains are used mostly as a vegetable rather than as a fruit. When raw, both bananas and Plantains are bland. Sweetness increases as they begin to mature. When fully ripe, Plantains are more sweeter than Bananas.

Sugar in the Plantains comes from starch. As starches take longer to breakdown into simple sugar they are initially less sweeter than Bananas. But since starches are complex sugars, they yield more simpler sugars.

Because ripe bananas are sweet, they are usually used in dessert recipes or baked goods, including banana bread, muffins, and cupcakes, often with chocolate chips thrown in. Chips are eaten as snacks.

Bananas are richer in many vitamins and minerals but due to their sugar base rather than starch base, user especially people with diabetes cannot overindulge in their consumption.

Animals cannot digest Cellulose

Most plants synthesize cellulose which they use to give strength to their bodies and make them withstand the vagaries of storms. It gives the shape to the trees and branches then expand the tree.

Cellulose becomes the wood when trees become mature. Furniture is made of this material. It is obvious that cellulose is insoluble in water otherwise no one will use it in construction and furniture.

Cellulose and starch and other carbohydrates consist of glucose molecules which are arranged in chains of different styles. In starch, two chains are intertwined.


These chains get separated on boiling the starch in water. This caused the chains to disperse in the water increasing its viscosity. Such starch is called pre-gelatinized starch.

On the other hand, cellulose structure is such that chains are not dispersed and wood remains unaffected in water. Glucose is the basic unit of sugar which is used by animals like humans for obtaining energy to keep the body running.

Starchy Foods

How do then we assimilate higher sugars like starch. They have to broken down to glucose units. The enzymes found in humans and other animals allow them to digest and metabolize many, but not all, biomolecules. Cellulose is one example of a molecule that defies digestion in many animals.

But the slight difference in the way the glucose molecules are hooked together in starch compared with how they are hooked together in cellulose makes a big difference in their digestibility.

Humans and many other higher animals have the enzyme required to break the bonds in starch, releasing glucose. The particular enzyme is called alpha-amylase.

But because the shape of the linkage is different in cellulose, the same enzyme will not work. In fact, where cellulose is concerned, humans do not have an enzyme that will work.

As it turns out, most humans eat a fair amount of cellulose in the form of fruits and vegetables. Although we cannot digest it, the cellulose serves as roughage or fiber that gives food bulk and keeps it moving through the digestive system. In the end, all of the undigested material ends up being eliminated as feces.

Maybe you are wondering how animals such as cattle, sheep, deer, and goats thrive on a diet of grass or other cellulose-rich food. Can they digest cellulose when humans cannot?

The answer is no. None of these animals have the enzymes required to digest cellulose. Instead they rely on colonies of microorganisms living in their digestive systems.

These simple microorganisms have the correct enzymes to digest the cellulose and to reassemble the products into starches and proteins. From these products, grazing animals acquire their nutrients. The special relationship between these animals and their resident microbes is called symbiosis—two organisms living with each other to the benefit of both.

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