Similarities Between Carbohydrates and Lipids

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What is a Carbohydrate?

Carbohydrate is one of the nutrients the human body needs in large quantity also known as a macronutrient. Carbohydrates can be found in human diets and it has molecules of carbon, hydrogen, and an oxygen atom. 

There are different types of carbohydrates and they are,

  • Simple carbohydrates

– These are mainly the sugars; monosaccharides, and disaccharides, for example; glucose, fructose, and sucrose, lactose.

– They are easily digested and utilized for energy. Hence, can lead to a rapid increase in blood sugar and insulin secretion in the pancreas.

– Sources include; honey, table sugar, candies, and fruit juices.

  • Complex carbohydrates

– These contain more than two sugars; oligosaccharides and polysaccharides

 – Their digestion process takes a longer time hence their rise in blood sugar is more gradual than rapid. 

– sources include; whole grain foods, fruits, legumes

  • Starches

– These are also complex carbohydrates but mainly polysaccharides.

– Sources; are mainly of plant origin and they include; Irish potatoes, sweet potatoes, yam, cassava, chickpeas, and grains.

  • Fiber 

– They are the non-starch polysaccharides and lignin from plants 

– subtypes; cellulose, pectin, hemicellulose, gum, chitosan

– They are not digestible but act as a bulking agent which stimulates easy fecal passage. 

– soluble fibers; examples includes, oats, fleshy fruits, dried beans

– insoluble fibers; examples includes, bran, seeds, vegetables 

Roles of carbohydrates in the body

  • source of energy 
  • they help control blood sugar as well as insulin metabolism
  • they take part in the cholesterol and triglyceride metabolism
  • some dietary fibers act as nutraceuticals which helps to lower lipid levels in the blood

After consumption, carbohydrates are broken down to glucose which the body uses for energy, and the excess glucose is stored in the liver and other muscle tissue which will be used when needed.

What are Lipids?

Lipids are organic molecules formed mainly by carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms. Although some lipid structures also contain phosphorus, nitrogen, and Sulphur atoms as well. 

Lipids are insoluble in water but are soluble in organic solvents.

Lipids exist as biomolecules in a variety of forms such as fats, waxes, glycerides, and phospholipids.

Roles of dietary Lipids 

  • Dietary lipids serve as an energy reserve for the human body
  • They serve as carriers of essential fat-soluble vitamins(A,D,E, and K) that the human body needs
  • They serve as insulating material in the subcutaneous tissues and some body organs. 
  • They help in some hormone regulation, e.g. sex hormones synthesis with vitamin D


Lipids can be gotten from plants and animal sources and they can be referred to as dietary lipids. 

Consumption and health impact

The source of dietary lipids affects gut-brain health.

Adopting a dietary habit of consuming foods high in dietary fats containing omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, saturated fatty acids, and trans fatty acids can result in an increase in gram-negative bacteria.

 An increase in the population of gram-negative bacteria in the human gut microbiome alters its composition-risk factor in the development of chronic diseases like inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, and also neurodegenerative diseases like dementia. 

Alternatively, consuming foods that are rich in, saturated fatty acids, and trans fatty acids increases inflammation of the brain whereas diets that are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, omega-3 fatty acids, and sphingolipids (a subclass of phospholipid) reduce inflammation of the brain.

Lipid oxidation is a term commonly associated with fat-containing foods. It occurs mainly in foods containing unsaturated fatty acids, e.g. omega-3 fatty acids), food that has been subjected to extensive heat during its processing, e.g. fried foods, or food rich in per-oxidants like meats.

It deteriorates the food by negatively affecting its sensory and nutrient quality. The toxicity produced when foods undergo lipid oxidation may enter the body through diets. 

When consumed, it can react with proteins, phospholipids, and DNA that are essential to health and could increase the body’s susceptibility to inflammatory diseases, cancer, and cardiovascular diseases, especially in those with pre-existing health conditions. Alternatively, eating foods containing dietary antioxidants could reduce the effect of toxic lipid oxidation products.

Similarities between carbohydrates and lipids

  • Both are organic compounds and also have structural composition made up of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms. 
  • Carbohydrates and lipids are both macronutrients that the body needs in larger quantities when compared to others (apart from protein) for its daily function.
  • Both carbohydrates and lipids are the main sources of energy for the body

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the similarities between carbohydrates and lipids?

– Both carbohydrates and lipids provide the body with non-nitrogen energy for intravenous feeding.

– Both are organic molecules with each possessing hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen atoms in their structure. 

What is the difference between carbohydrates and lipids?

– Carbohydrate digestion starts from the mouth (apart from disaccharides which start in the upper small intestine) while lipid digestion starts in the lower small intestine.

What is one similarity between carbohydrate and lipid responses?

– There is no similarity between carbohydrate and lipid responses. This is because, after ingestion, their digestion processes differ, and their end-product which the body uses as energy is also different. Fatty acids and glycerol for lipid digestion while glucose is the end product of carbohydrate digestion

How are lipids and carbohydrates related? 

– Both are organic molecules with each possessing hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen atoms in their structure. 

– They are sources of energy for the body.

Author: Jessica Damian

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References :

+ Blaak, E. E., Riccardi, G., & Cho, L. (2021). Carbohydrates: Separating fact from fiction. Atherosclerosis, 328, 114-123.

+ Holesh, J. E., Aslam, S., & Martin, A. (2022). Physiology, Carbohydrates. In StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing.

+ Nie, Y., & Luo, F. (2021). Dietary fiber: an opportunity for a global control of hyperlipidemia. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, 2021.

+ Jose M. et al., (2022). Food Lipids: Sources, Health Implications, and Future Trends

+ Academic Press.

+ Hans, S., Karadimou, A., Mulvihill, J. J. E., Grabrucker, A. M., & Zabetakis, I. (2022). The Role of Dietary Lipids in Cognitive Health: Implications for Neurodegenerative Disease. Biomedicines, 10(12), 3250. MDPI AG. Retrieved from

+ Zhang, Y. J., Li, S., Gan, R. Y., Zhou, T., Xu, D. P., & Li, H. B. (2015). Impacts of gut bacteria on human health and diseases. International journal of molecular sciences, 16(4), 7493–7519.

+ National Guideline Alliance (UK). Ratio of carbohydrates to lipids: Neonatal parenteral nutrition: Evidence review D8. London: National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE); 2020 Feb. (NICE Guideline, No. 154.) Available from:

+ Vieira, S. A., Zhang, G., & Decker, E. A. (2017). Biological implications of lipid oxidation products. Journal of the American Oil Chemists' Society, 94(3), 339-351.


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