2.2.2 Classification of carbohydrates
Based on the number of sugar units, carbohydrates are classified into three groups; these are monosaccharides, disaccharides and polysaccharides. You need to know the classes of carbohydrates to enable you to give relevant advice to patients with special needs like diabetes (when someone has problems regulating the amounts of glucose in their body).
Monosaccharides and disaccharides are referred to as simple sugars or simple carbohydrates that our body can easily utilise. For this reason, people with diabetes mellitus shouldn’t eat too many of these carbohydrates. Examples include sugar, honey, sweet fruits and sugar cane. Polysaccharides are called complex carbohydrates and they need to be broken down into simple sugars to be used by our body. They can be consumed by diabetic patients without restriction. Examples include starch and cellulose.
Can you think of examples of foods that are sources of carbohydrate?
Bread, ‘teff’, maize, ‘kocho’, potatoes, sugar cane, honey, sweet fruits, pasta, macaroni and ‘shiro’ are good sources of carbohydrates.
Which of these foods are simple sugars and should not be eaten in large quantities by patients who have diabetes?
Sugar cane, honey, sweet fruits and biscuits are among the food groups that shouldn’t be consumed by patients with diabetes.