Carbohydrate-containing foods are our main source of energy. Our bodies break these down to glucose. Glucose is the most readily available source of energy for the body.

Carbohydrate-containing foods can be..
  • Starchy food, e.g. bread, chapattis, potatoes, rice, some fruits & vegetables, pasta & breakfast cereals.
  • Sugary foods: These are of two types..
    - Where a form of sugar occurs naturally, e.g. in milk & fruit,
    - Where processed sugar has been added, e.g. in chocolate, confectionary, biscuits, cakes & the table sugar we add to drinks & foods ourselves.


It is recommended that about 50% of our total energy intake comes from carbohydrate-containing foods. Only a small amount of this (about one fifth) should be from sugary foods.

Most of the carbohydrate-containing foods we eat should be the starchy foods as these also contain some of the vitamins, minerals & fibre that we need. The starchy foods provide us with a slow, steady supply of energy as they take some time to be digested and enter our bloodstream.

Sugary foods, where sugar has been added rather than occurring naturally, are easy to eat to much of because they are sweet & tasty. We do not need sugar for energy. Too much sugar in our diet can lead us to eat more than we need. This extra energy can cause us to become overweight since our bodies store surplus energy as body fat. A high intake of added sugar has also been linked to dental decay (caries).