These foods are important because they provide carbohydrates (especially starch and fiber), but also vitamins, minerals and other substances of great interest to health.
Furthermore, cereals, and especially legumes, are also good sources of protein. Numerous studies have shown that a diet rich in cereals, legumes, vegetables and fruit protects against the appearance of numerous diseases very widespread in developed countries, in particular different forms of cancer and cardiovascular diseases (coronary artery diseases, hypertension, infarction), cataract , diseases of the respiratory system (asthma and bronchitis), diseases of the digestive system (diverticulosis, constipation), etc.
The consumption of adequate quantities of fruit and vegetables also ensures a significant supply of nutrients (vitamins, minerals, organic acids) and at the same time reduces the energy density of the diet, both because the fat content and caloric intake overall, they are limited, and because the satiating power of these foods is particularly high.
Q-Why we have to consume more cereals, legumes, vegetables and fruit?
A-Because they bring starch
Grains and derivatives have always been the main source of carbohydrates in the modern world nutrition system. In a balanced diet about 60% of the ration’s calories should come from carbohydrates, of which at least three quarters in the form of complex carbohydrates and no more than the remaining quarter in the form of simple carbohydrates.
The importance of carbohydrates comes from the fact that they are absorbed and used by the body easily and without producing metabolic waste, ensuring the cells a supply of glucose and therefore energy. Starch requires some digestive work to be transformed into glucose, which is why it is absorbed more slowly.
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Instead simple carbohydrates are digested and absorbed more easily. Consequently, the simultaneous presence of the two types of carbohydrates (simple and complex) in the proportions indicated ensures the body a constant and prolonged supply of energy, such as to avoid sudden changes in the rate of glucose in the blood (glycaemia).
Complex carbohydrates are essentially represented by starch and fiber. The first (a compound consisting of the union of many molecules of glucose) is present in good quantities especially in cereals, dried vegetables and potatoes. Dietary fiber is found in almost all vegetable products. Simple carbohydrates instead are made up of one or two molecules and are mostly sweet, hence the common term “sugars”. The most important are saccharose, which is obtained from beetroot or sugar cane, glucose and fructose contained in fruit and honey and lactose contained in milk.
This is it for part one of this mini series, Next week we will talk of another good reason why we should consume more cereals and derivatives, legumes, vegetables and fruit, which is because they are also good sources of dietary fiber.
See you all soon.
Helen Charlotte is a health centre assistant three days per week and a Biologist Student who enjoys running listening to music and walking. She is brave and entertaining, and loves competitions.