Staying away from carbohydrates is the first thing people do when they kick start a ‘healthy diet’ or embrace ‘healthy living‘. Carbs have a bad reputation when it comes to weight gain or obesity.
However, carbohydrates are nothing to be afraid of and they definitely aren’t the enemies of your health. They are in fact an essential part of your balanced diet.
A balanced diet includes the major food groups: Calcium, Fats, Carbohydrates, Vitamins, Minerals and Proteins. Carbohydrates are essential for providing energy to the body. They can be understood as the fuel which runs the body and keeps it going. Lack of carbs leads to tiredness and sluggishness. The human brain also requires carbohydrates to function.
Functions of Carbohydrates:
High carb foods are essential for the functioning of our nervous system and other internal organs. Carbs are also important to carry out digestive and excretion functions of the body.
As per studies by SFGate, 45-65% of the daily calorie intake should consist of carbs. Having said that, not all carbs are good for your health.
Processed food, white bread, white rice etc. constitute the category of carbs that should be avoided. However whole grains, vegetables and other items listed below fall under the category of healthy high carb foods.
10 Healthy High Carb Foods
For a deeper and better understanding of foods which you should include in your diet, here is a list of high carb foods:
We all have heard of the saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”. Well, that is true when it comes to the enormous benefits of apples.
One apple contains about 31g of carbohydrates which is about 13-15% of its constituents. Apart from being a healthy high carb food, apples also contain many essential vitamins and minerals.
- Apples contain Vitamin C which boosts the immunity system of the body.
- It also contains antioxidants which help the body in getting rid of free radicals.
- Helps in maintaining weight and lowering cholesterol.
- Aids proper digestion.
- Contains Vitamin B complex which helps to keep the body energised and active and also helps to maintain neural health.
- Contains phosphorus and calcium which are essential in maintaining dental health and are beneficial for healthy bones.
Bananas are one of the most popular fruits but are avoided people think they have high carb contents. A medium sized banana contains around 27g of carbohydrates.
But this should not be any reason for you to avoid bananas. They are a storehouse of essentials nutrients and help the body in various forms.
- Due to a high content of potassium, bananas help in lowering blood pressure.
- Helps in maintaining a healthy heart.
- Helps in supporting the health of digestive system.
- Reduces respiratory problems like asthma.
- Helps in improving blood sugar levels of the body.
- Has positive psychological benefits.
- Has been found to help in the prevention of certain cancers.
- Rich in Vitamin C and hence helps to boost immunity.
- Contains Vitamin B6 which protects the immune system, controls hormonal imbalance and emotional disorders.
Sweet potatoes are the healthier cousins of potatoes and are a healthy high carb food. A cooked sweet potato contains around 24g of carbs consisting of starch, sugar and fibre.
The nutrition value of sweet potatoes is however not restricted to the carbs and fibre contents only. They have a host of other benefits too.
- Rich in Vitamin A and hence is good for hair, skin and vision.
- Rich in Vitamin C and hence helps to maintain a healthy immune system.
- Contains potassium which is vital for maintaining normal blood pressure.
- Contains Vitamin D which is essential for healthy bones.
- Rich in antioxidants and hence helps to get rid of free radicals.
When it comes to healthy whole grains, oats probably tops the chart with an array of benefits it provides to the human body. A cup of oats serving contains around 46g of carbs.
Oats contain 66% carbs but should not be avoided just because of its high carb content. They contain essential vitamins and minerals required for the proper functioning of the body.
- Oats are rich in proteins and hence helps the body to grow and repair.
- Reduce the risk of heart diseases.
- Helps in weight management.
- Lowers cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
- Maintains blood pressure.
- Helps in preventing certain types of cancer.
- Contains fibres and hence helps in aiding digestion.
- Helps in reducing fatigue.
The beautiful looking purple-pink beets are a very common vegetable used in salads and juices. They contain about 10% of carbs.
A cup of beetroots contains around 13g of carbohydrates. It is however not just carbs which are a highlight, beets contain other vital nutrients and vitamins too.
- Helps in lowering of blood pressure.
- Rich in inorganic nitrates which provide the body with stamina and endurance.
- Reduces inflammation in the body.
- Has found to be helpful in the prevention of certain cancers.
- Contains high amounts of fibres which help in digestion.
Chickpeas are part of the legume family and are a very common food item in many cuisines. A cup of cooked chickpeas contains around 28% of carbs which is about 45g.
Having said that, chickpeas not only are a high carb food item, they have many other health benefits too.
- Rich source of plant-based proteins.
- Helps in maintaining a healthy heart.
- Helps in improving digestion.
- Contains Manganese and folate which helps in the growth and maintenance of the body.
- Are filling and help to keep off food cravings.
Kidney beans belong to the legume family like chickpeas and are a staple food for vegetarians. A cup of cooked kidney beans contains around 22.8% of carbs which is about 28g.
Kidney beans fall into the category of healthy high carb food and contain various vitamins and minerals. Some of its benefits are:
- Source of antioxidants.
- Improves blood sugar
- Helps to reduce the risk of colon cancer.
- Rich in proteins and hence help in growth and repair of tissues.
- Contains Vitamin C which boosts immunity
- Contains Vitamin A which is good for skin, hair and eyes.
- Contains iron which is essential for red blood cells.
Quinoa is one of the superfoods which has gained popularity in recent times. One cup of quinoa contains around 40g of carbs which is around 21%of carbs. The high content of carb is however not the only feature of this superfood. It is a great source of proteins and essential minerals. Some benefits of Quinoa are listed below:
- Improves blood sugar
- It is free of gluten.
- The high content of fibre which aids digestion.
- Helps in maintaining weight.
- The high content of iron which is essential for the health of red blood cells.
- Great source of protein which helps in growth and repair.
- Contains antioxidants which help the body to get rid of free radicals.
- Contains Vitamin B12 which helps in energy metabolism.
Grapefruits belong to the lemon family and contain about 26g of carbs which is about 9%. This bright and vibrant coloured fruit is however not to be judged by the high carb content. It has a lot of other health benefits too.
- Helps in weight loss and management.
- Helps maintain blood sugar levels.
- Helps to curb food cravings.
- Rich source of fibres and therefore helps in digestion.
- Reduces insulin resistance.
- Lowers cholesterol.
- Helps in preventing kidney stone.
- Helps in protecting colon cancer.
Buckwheat is a pseudo cereal but is not related to the wheat family. It does not contain gluten. One serving of buckwheat contains 61g of carbs which is around 71%. It is healthy high carb food with a host of other benefits.
- Contains proteins which are vital for body’s growth and repair.
- Contains fibre which helps in good digestion.
- Contains mineral to maintain the overall health of the body.
- The high content of Vitamin B which helps in providing essential energy to the body.
- Contains antioxidants which help the body get rid of free radicals.
- Helps in maintaining a healthy heart.
- Controls blood sugar.
Mixed Dry fruits or nuts containing prunes, apricots, raisins, cashew nuts etc available in the market contain around 88g of carbs per serving. Dry fruits, however, should not be eliminated from your diet. They are a quick and healthy snack option. Apart from this, they have many health benefits too.
- Contains high amounts of fibre which helps in maintaining a good digestion system.
- Contains anti-oxidants which free body of harmful radicals.
- Low in fat.
- Is an instant energy booster.
- High iron content in raisins and apricots helps to prevent anaemia.
- Prevents heart diseases.
- Maintains cholesterol.
- Contains phosphorus and copper which are vital for the functioning of the body.
- Contains calcium which is essential for bone and dental health.
- Contains Vitamin A which is vital for eye, skin and hair health.
Milk is another high carb food item which people avoid drinking thinking that it will add some extra pounds to their body. A cup of milk contains around 12% carbs but it has other health benefits too.
- Contains Vitamin D which is essential for dental and bone health.
- Contains potassium which helps in maintaining a healthy heart.
- Lowers blood pressure.
- Has known to prevent certain types of cancer.
Apart from cow’s milk, non-dairy variants like soy milk have various benefits too.
- Improves lipid profile and lowers triglyceride.
- Helps in losing weight.
- Strengthens bones
- Prevents osteoporosis.
- Helps in regulating blood sugar levels.
Berries are my personal favourite. Blueberries are common types of berries liked and consumed in many parts of the world. They contain around 15% of carbs.
One cup of berries has 21g of carbs. But along with the high content of carbohydrates, it has many vitamins and minerals which have many other health benefits too.
- Rich in antioxidants which help the body get rid of free radicals.
- Prevents cancer.
- Helps in reducing belly fat.
- It helps in improving your vision.
- Good for brain health.
- Aids digestion and prevents constipation.
- Contains vitamin C which enhances immunity.
- Contains Vitamin K and magnesium which are essential for bone and overall health.
- Protects the body from oxidative damages.
Oranges are another very common fruit which contains around 12% carbohydrates. This high carb food, however, has some very vital vitamins and minerals which are essential for the health of the body.
- Contains high amounts of vitamin C which help to prevent scurvy and strengthens immunity.
- Contains B-Vitamins which helps to energise the body.
- Contains antioxidants which prevent oxidation of molecules in the body.
- Improves heart health.
- Prevents kidney stones.
- Increases the absorption of iron from food into the body and hence prevents anaemia.
Pieces of bread if eaten moderately and swapped for whole wheat variants, can have many health benefits. A single slice of whole wheat bread contains around 20g of carbohydrates. Benefits of consuming whole wheat or brown bread are:
- Good source of vitamins and minerals.
- Low in bad cholesterol and fat.
- Rich in fibre and hence aids healthy digestion.
- Gives a filling feeling and helps to eliminate hunger for long hours.
Remember, depending on your age and sex, the carbohydrates that your body may need will vary. However, if you intake 2000 calories a day, you will need about 200 to 300 grams of healthy carbohydrates every day.
Therefore, eat only that much from the above list of high carb foods which limit your intake to the daily carbohydrate requirement. Not more, not less.
Not all kinds of carbohydrates are bad for your body and not all high carb foods are good. There might be several side effects of excessive intake of good carbs too. Too much of carbohydrates intake can lead to obesity and high sugar levels. It can lead to various heart diseases too.
On the other hand, inadequate intake of healthy carbohydrates leads to lower energy levels and fatigue. It also leads to mood swings. The fact to remember is to eat in moderation. Choose what you eat and embrace thoughtful eating.