There are two types of carbohydrates – available and unavailable. Sugars and starch are categorized as available carbohydrates. Sugars are present naturally in fruit, vegetables, and milk and are also added to many processed foods. Starch is found in foods such as bread, cereals, and potatoes. Both starch and sugars are digested in the body and converted to simple sugars (mainly glucose), which are then used by the body to provide energy.
Unavailable carbohydrate includes dietary fiber or non-starch polysaccharide (NSP). The term “unavailable” is used because the fiber can’t be digested and therefore doesn’t provide humans with energy. However, fiber is helpful in many other ways. Dietary fiber can be divided into two categories: insoluble fiber and soluble fiber.
Insoluble fiber, such as the type found in wholegrain cereals and grains, and some fruits and vegetables, adds bulk to the contents of the gut, speeding its transit, and helps protect against constipation and other bowel disorders. Soluble fiber, found in beans and lentils, fruit, vegetables, oats, barley, and rye, helps to reduce blood cholesterol levels and to regulate blood sugar levels.