It’s unfair to say that all carbohydrates (carbs) are created equal because that is a false statement. Carbs may have a bad reputation because people associate them with type 2 diabetes, weight gain, and numerous other health conditions. Processed foods that are rich in sugar and refined grains tend to lack the important vitamins and minerals that other carbohydrate foods have. The carbs you want to focus on are detailed in this article.
Low-carb diets may benefit some people, but you don’t have to avoid high-carb foods forever and always. Many high-carb foods, like whole grains and certain fruits, contain other nutrients that promote overall health. For example, these foods are often rich in fiber, protein, and essential vitamins and minerals. Let’s find out about some of the healthiest carbs you can eat!
Popular in a variety of recipes or as a filling snack, bananas are naturally rich in complex carbs. One large banana, for example, contains 31 grams (g) of carbs in the form of starches or sugars. Fortunately, bananas are incredibly rich in potassium and vitamins B6 and C, in addition to several other plant compounds. The potassium in bananas may help lower blood pressure and improve overall heart health. Unripe bananas, which are less sweet, have a higher starch content, and that transforms into natural sugars as the bananas ripen. You’ll get more starch and less sugar if you eat bananas when they’re less ripe. Unripe bananas also contain resistant starch and pectin, both of which support digestive health.
Oranges are great sources of vitamin C, potassium, and some B-vitamins, but they are mostly water. According to available food data, 100 g of oranges contains about 15.5 g of carbs. Not only do oranges enhance your hydration efforts, but they also provide potent plant compounds that encourage healthy immune function. Additionally, oranges may increase the absorption of iron from other foods, which may protect against iron deficiency anemia.
A half-cup serving (mashed) of these beautiful and nutritious tubers offers up 20.7 g of complex carbs, but don’t let that deter you. Sweet potatoes are naturally rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium. They also contain essential antioxidants that work to neutralize free radicals in the body. In doing so, the antioxidants help keep the cells healthy and protect you against chronic illness.
Known for their sweet, tart flavor and crisp crunch, apples come in all colors, flavors, and sizes. Generally, a half-cup serving of most apples contains 14-16 g of carbs, but that same serving boasts an impressive amount of fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants. According to early research, adding more apples to your diet may help reduce certain types of cancer, but more research is necessary. Eating apples may also help you regulate blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Ahhh…the grain that’s not really a grain. Classified as a pseudocereal, quinoa is a nutritious seed that you typically prepare and eat like a grain. Cooked quinoa contains 70% carbs, making it a high-carb food. That said, quinoa is rich in many minerals, plant compounds, and is a complete protein source, meaning it contains all the essential amino acids. Researchers have linked quinoa consumption to a variety of health benefits, including blood sugar management and improved heart health. Quinoa is also gluten-free, making it a popular option for those who adhere to a gluten-free diet.
Just like quinoa, buckwheat is a pseudocereal and does not contain any gluten, despite “wheat” being in the name. A 100-gram serving of raw buckwheat contains 75 g of carbs, while the same amount of cooked buckwheat groats contains 19.9 g of carbs. Buckwheat has more minerals and antioxidants than most whole grains, and it contains a lot of protein and fiber. Additionally, both human and animal studies suggest that buckwheat may directly benefit heart health and blood sugar regulation.
Beets round out the list of high-carb foods that exhibit impressive health benefits. Although beets aren’t as high in carbs as some of the other foods in this article, they do have a lot for a non-starchy vegetable. Raw and cooked beets contain 10 g of carbs per 100 g, primarily from the sugar and fiber. Besides the carbs, beets contain a lot of inorganic nitrates, which the body converts to nitric oxide to help lower blood pressure. Beet juice also contains nitrates and athletes occasionally use beet juice to enhance physical performance. The reason for this is because nitric oxide relaxes blood vessels, which allows oxygen to flow more freely during exercise.