Carbohydrates are the body's most important and readily available source of energy. Even though they've gotten a bad rap lately and are sometimes blamed for obesity, carbs are a necessary part of a healthy diet for both kids and adults.
The two major forms of carbs are:
- simple carbohydrates (or simple sugars): these include fructose, glucose, and lactose, which also are found in nutritious whole fruits
- complex carbohydrates (or starches): found in foods such as starchy vegetables, grains, rice, and breads and cereals
So how, exactly, does the body process carbs and sugar? All carbohydrates are broken down into simple sugars, which are absorbed into the bloodstream. As the sugar level rises, the pancreas releases the hormone insulin, which is needed to move sugar from the blood into the cells, where the sugar can be used as energy.