Key points

  • The two types of carbohydrate that provide dietary energy are sugars and starch. 1 gram provides 3.75 kcal (16 kJ)
  • Dietary fibre is also a type of carbohydrate found almost exclusively in plants. Unlike other carbohydrates, it is not absorbed in the small intestine to provide energy, although some metabolism occurs in the large bowel and it is now recognised that it contributes 2 kcal (8.4kJ) per gram. Dietary fibre has a number of functions including keeping the digestive system healthy
  • At least half the energy in our diets should come from carbohydrate, mostly as starchy carbohydrates
  • Frequent consumption of food and drinks containing fermentable carbohydrates can increase risk of tooth decay, especially if regular tooth-brushing with fluoride toothpaste is not practiced.

Carbohydrates are key components in the diet, comprising sugars, starchy carbohydrates and dietary fibre. Starchy carbohydrates provide an important source of energy, and fibre is important for digestive health. There is also evidence to show that the type of carbohydrate consumed can affect risk of certain diseases including heart disease.


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