Basic facts Carbohydrates should provide around 50% of your energy requirements and are therefore a very important part of your diet.

Your total carbohydrate intake consists of two main subgroups sugars and starches.

You get sugars from fruit and vegetables and also from dairy products, honey, table sugar and confectionery.

You get starch from potatoes, pasta, rice and bread.

Starch belongs to a group called complex carbohydrates. This group also includes fibre which is an important part of your diet. Vegetables contain other non-starch carbohydrates which are also very important for a healthy diet.

1 gram of carbohydrate provides 3.75 kcal of energy. Carbohydrates are changed by your body into glucose which provides a constant source of energy for the body.

What carbohydrates should you eat?
Most of your carbohydrate intake should come from complex carbohydrates (including significant amounts of beans and cereals) and from sugars contained in fruit and vegetables. You should consume only small amounts of dairy sugars, sugary drinks, table sugar and confectionery. Useful information
Excessive intake of sugars is thought to be associated with dental decay. Some non-starch complex carbohydrates may slightly reduce blood levels of cholesterol and so help reduce the risk of heart disease. Some evidence suggests that a high intake of fibre may lead to a lower risk of bowel cancer.

Further information

This article published on
25 November 2005

Next review date 11/1/2013


Diet and exercise
Diet and exercise
Diet and exercise

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Stomach and digestion

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