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Fifteen healthful high-carb foods

13 min read
Carbohydrates are an essential component of the diet, and many high-carb foods offer excellent health benefits.

There has been a lot of negativity surrounding carbs in recent decades. However, they are one of the main nutrients that the body needs, along with protein and fats. Carbs are essential not only to survive and function properly but to thrive.

Although refined carbs are processed and generally offer little to no nutritional value, unprocessed and whole food sources of carbohydrate are usually nutritious and can be very healthful.

In this article, we take a look at 15 high-carb foods and consider what they can do for your health.

High-carb vegetables

Adding these healthful, high-carb vegetables to a meal will boost its carbohydrate content:

1. Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a delicious favorite to include in a range of meals.

One medium, baked sweet potato with the skin on has 23.61 grams (g) of carbohydrates. Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of potassium and vitamins A and C.

A 2015 study found that some of the carbohydrate molecules in purple sweet potato may also have antioxidant and antitumor benefits.

2. Beets

Beetroots, or beets, are a sweet, purple root vegetable that people can eat either raw or cooked.

One cup of raw beets has 13 g of carbs. Beets are rich in potassium, calcium, folate, and vitamin A. They also provide people with naturally occurring inorganic nitrates that can benefit heart health.

3. Corn


Unprocessed carbohydrates are generally healthful.

Corn is a popular vegetable that people can enjoy year-round as a side dish, on the cob, or in a salad.

A measure of 100 g of corn contains 25 g of carbohydrates and 3.36 g of protein. It also provides a good amount of vitamin C.

According to a 2007 study, corn is beneficial for blood sugar levels and high blood pressure.


High-carb grains

Grains and pseudograins, which are the seeds of broadleaf plants, are great sources of carbohydrates. Whole-grain varieties provide protein and fiber and offer plenty of additional healthful benefits.

Grains are versatile and can form the main part of many meals. Rather than eating white rice and white bread, people can incorporate the following healthful high-carb grains into their diet:

4. Quinoa

Quinoa is a nutritious pseudograin. It tastes similar to other types of grain, and people can prepare and eat it in the same way.

One cup of quinoa contains 39.41 g of carbohydrates, 8.14 g of protein, and only 1.61 g of sugar.

Quinoa is also rich in minerals, including magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus.

As quinoa is high in both fiber and protein, it may help people lose weight. A 2010 study on rats has indicated that quinoa may help control blood sugar levels too.

5. Brown rice

Brown rice is a common side dish and a healthful alternative to white rice.

One cup of cooked brown rice has 36 g of carbohydrates.

This grain is also rich in antioxidants.

6. Oats

Oats are one of the most healthful and versatile whole grains. Different varieties are available, including rolled, steel cut, and quick oats.

A cup of old-fashioned rolled oats will provide 27 g of carbohydrates, in addition to 5 g of protein and 4 g of fiber.

Research has shown that oats can benefit people's cardiovascular health.


High-carb fruits

Fruits are an excellent source of healthful carbohydrates, particularly those below:

7. Bananas

Bananas are widely available and make for a convenient snack.

One medium banana has 26.95 g of carbs. Like sweet potatoes, they are also rich in potassium and vitamins A and C.

As a result of their potassium content, bananas are good for heart health and lowering blood pressure.

8. Apples

Apples are crunchy fruits that it is possible to buy year-round in grocery stores. They come in many varieties.

One medium apple contains 25.13 g of carbohydrates. It also provides vitamins A and C, potassium, and fiber.

According to a study involving older women, apples may lower the risk of disease-related mortality, including cancer mortality.

9. Mangos

man slicing a mango
Mangos are a good source of healthful carbohydrates and also contain vitamins, potassium, and fiber.

Mangos are a sweet tropical fruit.

One cup of chopped mangos has 24.72 g of carbohydrates.

Mangos are also high in vitamins A and C, potassium, and fiber.

Try adding mango chunks to breakfast cereals or smoothies. Mango is also great eaten alone as a snack. They are ready to eat when they yield slightly to gentle pressure.


High-carb dried fruits

A range of healthful dried fruits can help people achieve their daily carbohydrate needs. People can try eating the following dried fruits alone as a snack or adding them to a trail mix or meal:

10. Dates

There are many varieties of date, and they are naturally sweet enough to be used as a sweet snack or dessert.

There are 17.99 g of carbohydrates in one pitted Medjool date. This fruit is also rich in fiber, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and vitamin A.

11. Raisins

Raisins are dried grapes that work as a standalone snack or can add flavor and texture to cereal bars, salads, yogurts, or granola.

One cup of raisins packs in 129.48 g of carbohydrates. They also contain minerals, including potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, and calcium.

Raisins are a good source of antioxidants too.

12. Goji berries

People refer to goji berries as a superfood due to their high antioxidant content.

One cup has 32 g of carbohydrates and 5 g of protein. Goji berries are also a great source of vitamin A.

High-carb pulses

Pulses, such as beans and lentils, are high in carbohydrates, protein, and fiber. They are a great addition to any diet and can help people feel fuller for longer.

Try the following healthful, high-carb pulses:

13. Kidney beans

Kidney beans belong to the legume family. They are one of the most common beans to include in the diet.

One cup of kidney beans has 21 g of carbohydrates. They are also a good source of protein and fiber, with 6.99 g and 8.1 g per cup respectively.

These beans also contain potassium and iron. The consumption of white or dark kidney beans may improve inflammation in the colon.

14. Garbanzo beans

Garbanzo beans, or chickpeas, are also legumes. They are the primary ingredient of hummus.

One cup contains 19.01 g of carbohydrates as well as 5 g of protein.

Garbanzo beans are rich in fiber and calcium. Study results suggest that they can improve heart health and digestion.

15. Lentils

Lentils are popular high-protein legumes.

One cup of boiled lentils provides 39.86 g of carbohydrates along with 17.86 g of protein and 15.6 g of fiber.

Lentils are high in phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and folate.


High-carb foods to limit or avoid

young women drinking soda and eating potato chips
People wanting to follow a healthful diet should avoid sodas and potato chips.

For a healthful diet, people should limit or avoid refined carbohydrates with little or no nutritional content. High-carb foods that people should try to avoid include:

  • candy
  • sugary breakfast cereals
  • white pasta
  • white bread
  • white rice
  • cookies, muffins, and other baked products
  • flavored and sweetened yogurt
  • potato chips
  • sugary juices
  • sodas
  • foods and drinks with a high fructose corn syrup content
  • foods and drinks high in refined sugar
  • processed foods

Outlook

When it comes to carbs, the rule of thumb is to select whole foods and avoid processed and refined carbohydrates.

Whole foods that are high in carbs generally offer lots of essential nutrients and health benefits for the body.

People with a specific health issue or concern should talk to their doctor or a registered dietitian to determine which high-carb foods are right for them.

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