Before we begin, we want to make it clear that this is not a diet blog. We’re not going to tell you how many calories to eat or how much fat you should have. We’re not going to give you a meal plan or a spreadsheet of your daily caloric intake.
We know that most people are more interested in their health than they are in what they look like, and that’s why we’re here: because we believe that eating good carbs is the best way to take care of your body and mind.
We know that there are plenty of blogs out there that will tell you how to count calories and restrict yourself from foods like bread, pasta, and rice—but what if those foods aren’t bad for you? What if they’re actually good for your body? What if they help you feel full longer so that you don’t overindulge on snacks between meals?
That’s why we started this blog: because we believe that good carbs are essential for our long-term health. We want to share our knowledge about them with others so that they can learn about how eating these foods can help them feel great every day.
Food With Good Carbs
healthier just a little bit easier — and more fun!
Over the years, carbohydrates have gotten a bad reputation. People often associate them with weight gain, type 2 diabetes, and a variety of other health conditions.
Yes, it’s true that processed foods high in sugar and refined grains typically lack important vitamins and minerals. However, many nutrient-dense, fiber-rich foods can actually be very good for you.
While low carb diets can be beneficial for some people, there’s no reason to avoid high carb foods altogether.
Here are 12 high carb foods that are incredibly healthy.
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Quinoa is a nutritious seed that has become incredibly popular among health-conscious consumers.
It’s classified as a pseudocereal, which is a seed that’s prepared and eaten like a grain.
Cooked quinoa contains 70% carbs, making it a high carb food. However, it’s also a good source of protein and fiber (1Trusted Source).
Quinoa is rich in many minerals and plant compounds and has been linked to a variety of health benefits, including improved blood sugar management and heart health (2Trusted Source, 3Trusted Source).
Additionally, it does not contain any gluten, which makes it a popular alternative to wheat for those on a gluten-free diet.
Quinoa is also very filling since it’s relatively high in fiber and protein. For this reason, it may help promote healthy weight management and gut health (4Trusted Source, 5Trusted Source).
Quinoa is highly nutritious and may help improve blood sugar management and support heart health. Quinoa is also high in protein and fiber, so it may be useful for weight loss, as both of these nutrients can help keep you feeling full for longer.
Oats are an incredibly healthy whole grain and a great source of many vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Raw oats contain 70% carbs. A 1-cup (81-gram) serving contains 54 grams of carbs, including 8 grams of fiber. They are particularly high in a specific type of fiber called oat beta glucan (6Trusted Source, 7Trusted Source).
Oats are also a relatively good source of protein and contain more protein than most grains (8Trusted Source).
Research suggests that eating oats may reduce your risk of heart disease by lowering your cholesterol levels (9Trusted Source, 10Trusted Source, 11Trusted Source).
Eating oats may also lower blood sugar levels, especially in people with type 2 diabetes (12Trusted Source).
Furthermore, oats are very filling, which could help support healthy weight management (13Trusted Source, 14Trusted Source).
Oats contain many beneficial nutrients, including fiber and protein. Studies have also shown that eating oats lowers blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
Like quinoa, buckwheat is considered a pseudocereal. Despite its name, buckwheat is not related to wheat and does not contain gluten.
Raw buckwheat contains 75 grams of carbs, while cooked buckwheat groats contain about 19.9 grams of carbs per 100-gram serving (15Trusted Source, 16Trusted SourceTrusted Source).
Buckwheat is very nutritious, containing both protein and fiber. It also has more minerals and antioxidants than many other grains (17Trusted Source).
Additionally, studies in humans and animals suggest that it may be particularly beneficial for heart health and blood sugar regulation (18Trusted Source, 19Trusted Source).
Buckwheat is highly nutritious and contains more antioxidants and minerals than many grains. Buckwheat isn’t related to wheat and doesn’t contain gluten. Eating it may benefit your heart health and blood sugar regulation.
Bananas are a popular fruit people love to use in many different recipes.
One large banana (136 grams) contains about 31 grams of carbs, either in the form of starches or sugars (20Trusted Source).
Bananas are also high in potassium and vitamins B6 and C, and they contain several beneficial plant compounds (20Trusted Source).
Thanks to their high content of potassium, bananas may help lower blood pressure and improve heart health (21Trusted Source).
Unripe, green bananas are higher in starch. This transforms into natural sugars as the bananas ripen, turning yellow in the process. Thus, you’ll tend to get more starch and less sugar if you eat your bananas when they’re less ripe (22).
Unripe and less ripe bananas also contain decent amounts of resistant starch and pectin, both of which support digestive health and provide fuel for the beneficial bacteria in your gut (23Trusted Source, 24Trusted Source).
Bananas are high in potassium, a mineral that plays a key role in regulating blood pressure. Less ripe bananas also contain resistant starch and pectin, both of which can improve digestive health.
5. Sweet potatoes
Nataša Mandić/Stocksy United
Sweet potatoes are a delicious, nutritious tuber or root vegetable.
One-half cup (100 grams) of mashed, cooked sweet potatoes with their skin on contains about 20.7 grams of carbs, which consists of starch, sugar, and fiber (25Trusted Source).
Sweet potatoes are also a rich source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium (25Trusted Source).
What’s more, they’re packed with antioxidants, which are compounds that help neutralize harmful free radicals in your cells to protect you against chronic disease (26Trusted Source, 27Trusted Source).
Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin A, along with several other vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Beets are a purple root vegetable that people sometimes refer to as beetroots.
While they aren’t considered high in carbs overall, they do have a lot for a non-starchy vegetable. Raw and cooked beets contain about 10 grams of carbs per 100 grams, mainly from sugar and fiber (28Trusted Source, 29Trusted Source).
They’re also packed with vitamins and minerals, along with powerful antioxidants and plant compounds (30Trusted Source).
Beets are also high in inorganic nitrates, which are converted into nitric oxide in your body. Nitric oxide lowers blood pressure and may decrease the risk of several diseases (31Trusted Source, 32Trusted Source).
Beet juice is also very high in nitrates, and athletes sometimes use it to enhance their physical performance (33Trusted Source, 34Trusted Source, 35Trusted Source).
That’s because nitric oxide relaxes your blood vessels, allowing oxygen to flow more efficiently during exercise.
Beets are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds. They also contain high amounts of inorganic nitrates, which can improve heart health and boost physical performance.
Oranges are a popular type of citrus fruit.
They’re mainly composed of water and made up of about 15.5 grams of carbs per 100-gram serving. Oranges are also a good source of fiber (36Trusted Source).
Oranges are especially rich in vitamin C, potassium, and some B vitamins. In addition, they contain citric acid, as well as several potent plant compounds and antioxidants (37Trusted Source).
Eating oranges may improve heart health and help prevent kidney stones. They may also increase the absorption of iron from other foods you eat, which may help protect against iron deficiency anemia (38Trusted Source, 39Trusted Source, 40Trusted Source, 41Trusted Source).
Oranges are a good source of fiber. They also contain high amounts of vitamin C and other healthy plant compounds. Eating oranges may benefit heart health and increase iron absorption to help prevent anemia.
Blueberries are frequently marketed as a superfood due to their rich content of antioxidants.
They consist mostly of water, as well as about 14.5 grams of carbs per 100 grams (42Trusted Source).
Blueberries also contain high amounts of many vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, vitamin K, and manganese (42Trusted Source).
Studies have shown that blueberries are a good source of antioxidant compounds, which can help protect your body against damaging free radicals. Studies suggest that eating blueberries may even improve memory in older adults (43Trusted Source, 44Trusted Source).
Blueberries are very healthy. They contain many vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and they can help protect against oxidative damage.
Grapefruit is a citrus fruit with a sweet, sour, and bitter flavor.
It contains about 8% carbs and is rich in a variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants (45Trusted Source).
According to some human and animal studies, grapefruit could enhance heart health and improve blood sugar management (46Trusted Source, 47Trusted Source).
Furthermore, other research suggests that certain compounds found in grapefruit could help prevent kidney stones, lower cholesterol levels, and even potentially slow the growth and spread of cancer cells (48Trusted SourceTrusted Source, 49Trusted Source, 50Trusted Source, 51Trusted Source).
However, scientists need to do more studies on the effects of grapefruit in humans.
Grapefruit contains many beneficial vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It may provide numerous health benefits.
Apples are well known for their sweet, tart flavor and crisp texture.
They’re available in many colors, sizes, and flavors, all of which generally contain about 14–16 grams of carbs per 100 grams (52Trusted Source, 53Trusted Source, 54Trusted Source).
Apples also boast many vitamins and minerals, but usually only in small amounts.
However, they are a good source of vitamin C, antioxidants, and fiber (55Trusted Source).
Apples may also offer several health benefits, including improved blood sugar management and heart health (56Trusted Source, 57Trusted Source).
Early research suggests that adding apples to your diet may even be associated with a reduced risk of certain types of cancer. However, more research is needed (58Trusted Source, 59Trusted Source).
Apples contain a decent amount of vitamin C, antioxidants, and plant compounds. Eating apples may improve blood sugar management, as well as reduce the risk of heart disease and potentially even certain types of cancer.
How to peel apples
11. Kidney beans
Kidney beans are a member of the legume family and a variety of the common bean.
Cooked kidney beans contain about 21.5 grams of carbs per 100 grams, in the form of starches and fiber. This legume is also high in protein (62Trusted Source).
Kidney beans are a good source of many vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds. They’re also rich in antioxidant compounds, including anthocyanins and isoflavones (63Trusted Source).
Their numerous health benefits include improved blood sugar regulation and a reduced risk of colon cancer (64Trusted Source, 65Trusted Source).
However, be sure to cook them first because raw or improperly cooked kidney beans are toxic (66).
Kidney beans contain many vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Cooked kidney beans are also a good source of protein and have been linked to several health benefits.
Nataša Mandić/Stocksy United
Also known as garbanzo beans, chickpeas are part of the legume family.
Cooked chickpeas contain 27.4 grams of carbs per 100-gram serving, along with almost 8 grams of fiber. They’re also a good source of plant-based protein (67Trusted Source).
Chickpeas contain many vitamins and minerals, including iron, phosphorus, and B vitamins (67Trusted Source).
Not only have chickpeas been linked to improved heart and digestive health, but some test-tube studies suggest they may also help protect against certain types of cancer. More research in humans is needed, however (68Trusted Source).
Chickpeas are an excellent source of plant-based protein and contain many vitamins and minerals. Eating chickpeas has been linked to benefits for heart and digestive health, as well as potential cancer prevention.
The bottom line
It’s a myth that all carbs are unhealthy. In fact, many of the healthiest foods are high in carbohydrates.
That said, you shouldn’t eat carbs in large amounts if you’re on a low carb diet. In addition, refined carbs, such as white bread and pasta, may be unhealthy in high amounts.
However, you can enjoy these nutritious, delicious carbs as part of a healthy, whole-foods diet.
FRESH FOOD FAST
Just one thing
Try this today: When you go grocery shopping, opt for whole grain varieties of high carb foods like bread, pasta, and rice. This will boost your intake of important nutrients, including fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
high carb vegetables
Carbohydrates — aka carbs — the most misunderstood of macronutrients. This unjustly maligned food group boasts so many different forms with varying levels of nutritional value. As such, we know it can be a bit hard to get your head around what carbs will support your health and fitness goals and which ones will slow it down.
Now we bet as a kid you were often told to eat your veggies or as an adult that incorporating fresh vegetables into your diet can be the healthiest dietary update you can do for yourself, well this is both correct and incorrect at the same time. Confused? Bread, pasta and other grains aren’t the only high-carb foods out there — some veggies fall into that category as well.
We know it can be mind-boggling to navigate the realm of high-carb vegetables, knowing which ones to eat and which ones to avoid. So we’re here to help you sort the proverbial wheat from the chaff and show you that there is a difference between a pile of oil-drenched french fries — high in glucose, but low in nutritional content — and that big bowl of fresh, nutrient-dense spinach.
Whether your goal is weight-loss/weight management, to get leaner or increase muscle-mass — you’ll need to be mindful of which high-carb vegetables you incorporate into your meals, and which ones you eat intermittently if at all.
What are high-carb vegetables
Okay, let’s get things started with what you’ve all been waiting with baited breath to find out — what are high-carb vegetables? Generally, a good rule of thumb is the starchier the vegetable, the higher the carb content is. A handy way of establishing whether you’re eating a high-carb vegetable is the sweeter the flavor, the higher the glucose content, making it — you guessed it — a high-carb vegetable. Think sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, and squash.
The sweetness you taste when eating them is effectively an indication of the glucose levels in that particular veggie (glucose is a simple sugar that circulates in our bloodstream and fuel our biochemical processes — from your brain functions to muscle movement). However, too much isn’t necessarily a good thing either, especially if you live a sedentary lifestyle. High-carb vegetables have a more dramatic effect on your blood sugar levels than their low-carb brethren and, in turn, affect your insulin levels — which often leads to weight gain or problems shedding those extra pounds, despite regular exercise.
Where do high-carb vegetables rank on the GI index?
In case you lent over to the person next to you and were like, “What in the world is the GI index?” — no worries, we’ll explain. The glycemic index (GI) measures how quickly food raises your blood sugar levels compared to the glycemic load (GL), which factors in the serving size of a food. The index is measured on a scale of 0 to 100, with pure glucose (sugar) given a value of 100. Fast-burning carbs (simple carbs) like sweeteners, fruit, candy, soda, and juice are high on the GI scale and can boost your blood sugar quickly. On the other hand, slower-burning carbs (complex carbs) like peas, carrots, eggplant, cauliflower, broccoli, onions, lettuce, tomatoes, green beans and red peppers, by comparison, keep your blood sugar more level over time.
High-carb vegetables and weight loss
For those of you looking to lose weight or manage your existing weight, you’ve probably done some research and read that, generally, the best route is to follow a low-carb meal plan, and there are bucket loads of different diet plans out there. From the ketogenic diet (low-carb, high-fat), paleo or Dukan’s (low-carb, high-protein) to the Zone diet (low-GI). Low-carb diets, where you exclude high-carb vegetables and grains, doesn’t automatically equate to low body mass.
Oftentimes, high-protein diets can also lead to weight gain. It’s all about balance. Regular exercise paired with correctly portioned, nutrient-rich foods that include fibrous carbs such as fresh veggies and legumes will help you on your weight-loss or weight management journey. What it all boils down to is finding a way to eat that you enjoy, and that is sustainable over a lifetime — rather than just for the sake of weight-loss.
High-carb vegetables and lean muscle mass
As any fitness professional or nutritionist worth their weight in salt will confirm, there is a correlation between building lean muscle mass and fat-burning. But how does eating high-carb vegetables fit into this equation when we know that muscles require protein to grow and get stronger? Well, research shows that along with protein, muscles also need carbohydrates, as a catalyst for the process of whole body protein synthesis. An example would be that the average man would require a ratio of 3:1 carbs to protein as a post-workout snack, to expedite muscle building and regeneration.
List of high-carb vegetables
We mentioned a handful of high-carb vegetables earlier, but here are a few of the most commonly eaten ones with their respective carbohydrate content in grams. It’s also worth keeping in mind that the below list is a rough guideline and correlates to the vegetable in their raw state, cooking vegetables chemically changes their molecular composition and thus changes the carb content and portion size.
Black-eyed peas: 1 cup = 100g carbs
Garbanzo beans: 1 cup = 126g carbs
Pinto beans: 1 cup = 120g carbs
White beans: 1 cup = 122g carbs
Lima beans: 1 cup = 112g carbs
Green peas: 1 cup = 120g carbs
Carrot (chopped): 1 cup = 12g carbs
Butternut squash (chopped): 1 cup = 16g carbs
Sweet potato (chopped): 1 cup = 27g carbs
Parsnips (sliced): 1 cup = 24g carbs
Potato (diced): 1 cup = 27g carbs
Pumpkin (chopped): 1 cup = 8g carbs
Plantains (sliced): 1 cup = 47g carbs
Corn:1 cup = 27g carbs
Mustard greens: 1 cup = 3g carbs
Alfalfa sprouts: 1 cup = 1g carbs
Lettuce: 1 cup = 1g carbs
Spinach: 1 cup = 1g carbs
Kale: 1 cup = 1g carbs
Bok choy: 1 cup = 2g carbs
Swiss chard: 1 cup = 1g carbs
Onion: 1 cup = 15g carbs
Green onion/scallion: 1 cup = 7g carbs
Leeks: 1 cup = 12g carbs
Celery: 1 cup = 3g carbs
Zucchini: 1 cup = 4g carbs
Eggplant: 1 cup = 5g carbs
Tomato: 1 cup = 7g carbs
Green bell pepper: 1 cup = 7g carbs
Sweet red pepper: 1 cup = 7g carbs
Cauliflower: 1 cup = 5g carbs
Okra: 1 cup = 7g carbs
Asparagus: 1 cup = 5g carbs
Turnips: 1 cup = 8g carbs
Radishes: 1 cup = 4g carbs
Green beans: 1 cup = 5g carbs
Green cabbage: 1 cup = 5g carbs
Red cabbage: 1 cup = 5g carbs
High-carb vegetables to avoid
At 8fit, we don’t believe in avoiding foods, but rather eating in a well-balanced, wholesome way by incorporating all of the main food groups and the perfect-for-you ratio of carbs, fats, and protein. However, if you want to be mindful of what high-carb vegetables will work with rather than slow down your health and fitness efforts, then it’s wise to opt for those fiber-dense, slower-burning veggies with the low GI scoring that will feed your muscles, and release energy gradually while keeping your blood sugar levels constant and your appetite satiated.
Sign up for 8fit to give some of our low-carb recipes a go. Our nutritional experts have accurately calculated and finely tuned macronutrient ratios to suit your body’s needs and fitness goals.