Carbohydrates are one of the three main food types. Carbohydrates are found in starchy foods like pasta, potatoes, and bread as well as fruit and milk. The different types of carbohydrates include sugars, starches, and fiber. Many foods contain carbs, including fruits, vegetables, legumes (beans), dairy products, and grains. Bread, cereals pasta rice other grains are good sources of carbohydrates. Processed snack foods like chips also contain carbohydrates

Definition of carbohydrates

Carbohydrates, one of the three basic food types (along with fats and proteins), are the body’s main energy source. They’re turned into glucose in your body, which provides energy to your cells.

There are two kinds of carbohydrates: simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates are sugars that don’t take long for your body to break down and absorb (think table sugar). Complex carbohydrates are long chains of sugar molecules that take longer for your body to digest (think whole grains like whole-wheat bread or brown rice).

Food and carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy, but they’re not all created equal.

In fact, there are three different types of carbohydrates: sugars, starches, and fiber. Each type has its own unique properties that affect your body differently.

Sugars are the easiest for your body to digest, so they provide quick energy. They include fructose (found in fruit), galactose (found in milk), and glucose (a simple sugar found in grains). Carbohydrates like these can be found in essentially every food made from plants or animals—including most fruits and vegetables—as well as honey, maple syrup, molasses, and high-fructose corn syrup.

Carbohydrates are an essential part of a healthy diet. Carbohydrates provide energy for the body and help you feel full for longer. Carbohydrate-rich foods include starchy foods like pasta, potatoes, and bread; fruit; milk; and processed snack foods such as chips.

They are broken down into glucose (sugar) in your body, which provides energy for daily activities. However, too many carbohydrates can be harmful to your health if they’re not balanced with other nutrients such as fats or proteins.

Too many carbohydrates

When you eat carbohydrates, your body breaks them down into glucose. Glucose is the body’s main energy source and it’s also used to make other important compounds like cholesterol and amino acids.

Glucose enters the bloodstream after being released from the digestive tract when you eat food containing carbohydrates. Your pancreas then secretes insulin, which lowers blood sugar levels by helping cells take up glucose from the blood.

When there’s enough insulin in your system, most of this extra glucose gets stored as glycogen (a special form of starch) in muscles and liver cells for future use. Glycogen is easily converted back into glucose when needed by breaking down one molecule at a time into two molecules of glucose.

Not enough carbohydrates

When you eat a very low-carb diet and your body has to rely on fat for energy, it stimulates the production of ketones. These are chemicals created by your liver when blood sugar is lower than normal and can be used as fuel. They’re often called “good” fats because they don’t raise blood pressure or cholesterol levels like some other types of fat do.

A low-carb diet can cause these ketones to build up in your urine, which can make it smell fruity or like nail polish remover (called acetone). This isn’t dangerous, but it’s not pleasant either—especially if you’re trying not to give away what you’ve been eating!


Where are carbohydrates found?

Carbohydrates are found in a wide array of both healthy and unhealthy foods—bread, beans, milk, popcorn, potatoes, cookies, spaghetti, soft drinks, corn, and cherry pie.

Are potatoes good carbs?

Potatoes are considered a starchy vegetable and a healthy carb.

What vegetables are high carb?

The most common high-carb vegetables are potatoes, peas, corn, and squash.