Andrea N. Bailey
Carbohydrates are the body's most important source of energy and they include starches and sugar. These energy sources are produced in plants by a process we known as photosynthesis. Carbohydrates are divided into three classes: monosaccharide, disaccharides and polysaccharides. Monosaccharide is the simplest and glucose and fructose are the two important carbohydrates. Glucose occurs naturally in corn syrup, vegetables, honey and molasses. Glucose is formed in the body when complex carbohydrates are broken down during digestion and it is then carried throughout the body by the bloodstream. It provides constant and immediate energy for all body cells and tissues, especially the brain.. Fructose commonly found in molasses, fruits, vegetables and honey is the sweetest of all the sugars and also is the easiest absorbed by the body.
Carbohydrates increase the absorption of tryptophan, which is converted into serotonin in the brain ("Brain Food,"2009). Serotonin neurotransmitters are needed for normal brain function
Disaccharides include sucrose, lactose, and maltose. Sucrose is ordinary table sugar and it is found in sugar beets, maple syrup, corn syrup, molasses and sugar cane. Lactose is found in the milk of mammals. Maltose is found in spouting cereal grains, malted milk, and malted cereals. During digestion, disaccharides are broken down, absorbed, and used by body.
Polysaccharides are the most complex carbohydrates, and they include cellulose, starch, dextrin, and glycogen. Cellulose is a fibrous material in plants. It is indigestible by humans but it provides bulk in a diet and stimulates the action of the muscles in the digestive tract.
Starch is the most abundant carbohydrate in the diet. Starch is found in roots, seeds and tubers. It must be broken down into glucose before it can be absorbed.
Dextrin is a by-product of the breakdown of starch and it is present in the preparation of foods. Sources of dextrin are rice, wheat flour, peanuts, corn and beans.