Carbohydrates tend to get a negative reputation. Often times carbs are associated with unhealthy sugars. While this can be true, there are many healthful sources of carbohydrates found in the form of fruits, vegetables, and other nutrient-dense edibles. Many healthy carbohydrate sources contain certain natural sugars, one of which being glucose. Glucose serves as a natural source of energy for almost all living things. It is also a component of our own blood sugar levels. All carbohydrates contain a source of glucose that we need in order to maintain a balance of health. Aside from natural energizing sugars, there are some healthy carbohydrates that provide multiple other benefits.
Sources of carbohydrates you want to limit include junk foods like sodas, chips, candy, etc. Junk foods contain high levels of processed sugars that have been found to increase the risk of certain adverse health effects. These types of sugars from junk foods can also affect your energy levels causing you to feel more tired.
Healthy carbs typically aren’t as refined or processed, so they contain more of their original organic and healthful components. Consuming foods with a higher healthy carbohydrate content ensures you will have a strong foundation for the rest of your diet and/or physical activity.
Here are 10 of the most beneficial healthy carbohydrates:
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Not only are various types of beans rich in protein and other vitamins and minerals, they also serve as a healthy source of carbohydrates. Since many beans have a high fiber content, incorporating these foods into your diet will allow for a smoother digestion.
Beans are also a great alternative for vegetarians or for others who are looking for meatless high-protein sources. On the other hand, if you are trying to build muscle mass, beans make a great addition to your meals as an extra boost of protein and calories.
2. Fruits – berries, bananas, apples
When you think of carbs, fruits probably aren’t what first come to mind. Fruits are a necessity for our well-being, as they provide numerous essential nutrients and benefits.
For one, fruits consist of necessary vitamins and minerals needed for tissue repair and other body functions. They also contain other natural nutrients that provide a boost of energy.
3. Vegetables – sweet potatoes, carrots, onions
What’s consuming fruits without vegetables? These healthy carbohydrates are packed with nutrients that can help to prevent heart disease, lower blood pressure, and aid in good eye and skin health. Consume them alongside your meals and reap the benefits.
4. Brown rice
Brown rice is a very fulfilling choice of healthy carbohydrates. It hasn’t been as refined as white rice and still holds in tact much of the original nutrients from the kernel. This food is a benefit to your health due to the fact that it contains a large majority of your daily vitamin and mineral requirements. It contains 45 grams of carbs in 1 cup, meaning you get an ample amount of energy restoration plus more. Brown rice makes for a great post-workout meal when eaten alongside protein for maximized results.
Quinoa is a popular choice among those looking for healthful meatless sources of protein and carbohydrates. It is a complete protein food, meaning it contains all of the nine essential amino acids we must get from our diet.
Quinoa contains high amounts of magnesium which aids in many areas including muscle function. This food also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties which help counter ailments like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and more.
6. Whole grain bread
Whole wheat/grain foods in general tend to be healthier for you. This is because the whole wheat germ and bran that holds key nutrients in the plant is preserved. Whole grain bread is a healthy carbohydrate and may make a preferred choice compared to other breads. Some benefits to consuming whole grain bread include an improved digestive system and lowered risk for certain diseases. To add, this food is rich in minerals like iron, zinc, and potassium that are needed for nervous system health and brain functioning.
7. Whole wheat pasta
Whole wheat pasta makes a great alternative for healthy sources of carbohydrates. This form of pasta hasn’t been as refined as your regular pasta shells. The whole wheat pasta shells preserve many of the natural minerals and fibers derived from the wheat germ plant. It is also a fulfilling meal that can provide a boost of energy. Whole wheat pasta is a nutrient-dense food, so you will be able to get many of your essential vitamins and minerals needed to help maintain healthy body functions.
Lentils are apart of the legume family and are used in a variety of recipes. This healthful carbohydrate is beneficial to you because it contains an abundance of nutrients and have been found to produce multiple health benefits. Additionally, lentil is a protein-rich food that contains certain amino acids utilized for muscle growth and repair, among other functions. Consuming this food will leave you feeling energized and fulfilled.
9. Oats / Oatmeal
Starting your day off with these healthy carbohydrates will surely pay off. Oats/oatmeal are an all around highly nutritious source of calories.
You can get a good amount of carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats from just oats. These foods are also rich in antioxidants and fiber.
Yogurt usually features a blend of fruits and contains certain healthy fats and carbohydrates. This snack supports good bone health thanks to its high calcium content. Additionally, yogurt can help encourage a smoother digestive system as it contains a healthy form of a bacteria found naturally in our intestines. Greek yogurt in particular usually contains more protein, around 15 grams per cup depending on the brand, for those in search of high-protein snacks.
Carbohydrates + protein make for a strong foundation for muscle growth and/or gaining weight. Check out this list of the 12 best high-protein foods for quicker healthy weight gain:
1“11 Interesting Benefits of Lentils.” Organic Facts, 6 Mar. 2018, www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/health-benefits-of-lentils.html.
2“What Are the Benefits of Greek Yogurt Vs. Regular Yogurt?” Healthy Eating | SF Gate, healthyeating.sfgate.com/benefits-greek-yogurt-vs-regular-yogurt-6187.html.
3“The Whole Truth about Whole Grains.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 18 July 2017, www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/whole-grains/art-20047826.