Carbs are your body’s main energy source before it turns to less efficient forms like fat. But to maintain optimal health and well-being, choose nutritious carbs from whole food sources such as fruits, vegetables and grains.
Unprocessed carbs such as those found in whole grains and vegetables provide essential vitamins, minerals and fiber. Avoid refined carbohydrates which can cause sudden spikes in blood sugar while draining nutrients from your body.
A medium apple contains 4.4 grams of carbs, with most coming from fiber. Fiber has numerous health benefits for gut health and blood sugar regulation as well as providing bulk to meals to increase satiety and provide bulk. Apples are one of the world’s most beloved fruits; packed with essential vitamins, minerals and healthy phytochemicals as well as pectin – an indigestible form of dietary fiber which increases diversity within your colon and improves ratio of bacteria for increased health benefits like reduced inflammation, increased release of satiety hormones release and even possible protection against chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
Registered dietitians advise incorporating nonstarchy vegetables, like leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables, onto half your plate for optimal nutrition. Cassetty and London both highly recommend the inclusion of Brussels sprouts into their meals for their beneficial fiber, folate, potassium and iron content as well as crunchy salad topping. They add that sauteed Brussels sprouts make an excellent addition to soups, stir fries or veggie bowls.
Cassetty also recommends avocado oil, which contains no carbohydrates and offers heart-healthy unsaturated fats. She suggests using it to dress steamed or roasted vegetables, fish or meat dishes or use it to quickly make pesto using basil leaves, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts, lemon zest, salt and olive oil as ingredients.
Although peanut butter contains carbs, two tablespoons of plain nut butter provide 7 grams of protein and are an excellent source of heart-healthy fats. To maximize its nutritional benefits, look for brands without added sugars for maximum benefit.
Quina is one of the best choices when it comes to healthy carbs; first cultivated for food around 7,000 years ago in the Andes, this protein-packed pseudograin boasts minerals, vitamins and fiber. Plus it provides essential omega-3 fatty acids which may reduce cholesterol levels and risk of heart disease (2).
Quinoa stands out as an unparalleled source of complete protein, providing all nine essential amino acids our bodies require for proper functioning (3, 4). Furthermore, it boasts important nutrients like magnesium, zinc, iron and phosphorus (5).
Quina stands out as an alternative to refined grains in that it increases feelings of fullness after meals, possibly due to the phytoecdysteroids and compounds it contains that inhibit enzymes that convert carbs to glucose (5-9). Regular consumption has also been associated with lower blood sugar levels (9).
One cup of cooked quinoa provides about 221 calories, 39 grams of carbohydrates, and an impressive 8 grams of protein (8, 9, 10). If you are having difficulty digesting quinoa or experiencing digestive issues, try soaking and rinsing before cooking to remove some saponin (an acid which causes gassiness), which may contribute to bloating and gas.
Brown rice and quinoa are nutritious, filling carbohydrates that should be an integral part of anyone’s diet. Quinoa stands out as an especially healthful choice that boasts protein, minerals and plant compounds while being gluten-free (1-11). Furthermore, some people may find quinoa easier on their digestive systems (12, 13); both should be used as alternatives to low-fiber processed carbs like white bread and pasta (14): you can incorporate either into salads, make delicious quinoa bowls, or combine it with proteins and vegetables (14).
Chickpeas provide healthy carbohydrates, satisfying fiber, and protein for daily intake while helping manage blood sugar levels.
Garbanzo beans, part of the legume family which also includes peas, beans and lentils, are an invaluable ingredient to many cuisines worldwide. Commonly referred to in America as chickpeas for their creamy taste that goes perfectly with foods such as falafel or hummus.
Beans boast a low glycemic index, meaning they won’t cause sudden and dangerous spikes and crashes in blood sugar, helping prevent obesity, heart disease and diabetes. Furthermore, being packed full of protein they’ll leave you feeling full after each meal and promote satiety.
Chickpeas contain soluble fiber which helps slow carb absorption to promote steady blood sugar levels, while their protein and garbanzo bean nutrients also aid in maintaining normal cholesterol levels.
Legumes are an excellent source of B vitamins and folate. Folate plays a vital role in DNA synthesis and cell division, making it particularly relevant to vegetarians and vegans.
Chickpeas provide not only carbohydrates, but also plenty of essential nutrients such as folate, potassium and iron which are especially important for pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers.
Chickpeas may provide ample nutrition, yet are still high in calories; be mindful not to overdo them! When possible, select canned variety to reduce sodium consumption, and read food labels carefully for any additional fat or nutrients added by different preparations. Remember, whole/minimally processed carbohydrates provide more fiber, vitamins and minerals than refined options.
Legumes are an economical source of protein that make for an ideal alternative to meat while providing heart-healthy fiber, phytochemicals and plant sterols. Legumes come in all sorts of varieties; from black, white, red and green beans through to peas, lentils and peanuts – each food boasting plant-based carbohydrates rich in potassium magnesium and fiber that may all work to lower blood pressure.
As well as their nutritional value, legumes are widely recognized for their ability to improve soil health. Legumes are nitrogen-fixing plants – meaning that they form relationships with bacteria which enable them to turn atmospheric nitrogen into usable forms for their roots – in turn releasing natural fertilizer back into the environment.
Beans and lentils are excellent sources of protein, providing 15 grams per cup and 19 grams respectively, in addition to folate, vitamin B6 and magnesium. Unfortunately they can often be hard to digest raw; to help ensure they digest easier it is best to cook legumes whenever possible; cooking helps inactivate phytohemagglutinin which has been linked with gas, bloating and abdominal discomfort; so for first timers or those avoiding legumes it may be advisable to start off slowly by starting with smaller serving sizes or taking digestive aid to prevent gassiness.
Yogurt is an ideal source of carbohydrates with several nutritional benefits for vegetarians and vegans who struggle to source reliable sources of protein. Plus, yogurt provides essential calcium and vitamin D benefits as well as gut-balancing probiotics! Enjoy it alone or mix into sweet dishes like fruit smoothies or parfaits; or use as part of savory dips and condiments – low-sugar varieties will offer maximum nutrition value!
Avocados (commonly referred to as alligator pears) are an amazing food source, packed full of essential vitamins and nutrients essential to good health. Avocados offer fiber, heart-healthy fats, proteins and minerals which makes this fruit an essential addition to any balanced diet.
Compare white flour, pasta and bread to whole grains which contain more fiber – thus delaying absorption into your bloodstream and providing more filling carbohydrates – for a substantial increase in nutrition and increased satiation. Opting for unprocessed whole wheat, brown rice or barley instead may give your diet an impressive nutritional boost and increase in satiety.
Avocados can be an effective way to add carbohydrates while staying on a low-carb diet. One 100-gram serving provides 9 total carbohydrates; 7 of these carbohydrates come from dietary fiber which the body is incapable of digesting or absorbing. Furthermore, half a large avocado only supplies 2 total carbs. So avocados make for an ideal way to increase carbs while staying within limits!
Avocados contain heart-healthy monounsaturated fats such as oleic acid that are known to lower harmful cholesterol levels and blood pressure while decreasing risk for cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, avocados provide potassium and vitamin E which together work together to regulate blood pressure while also helping protect cells against damage.
Avocados contain phytochemicals known as lutein and zeaxanthin that have the power to cross the blood-brain barrier and protect eyes from inflammation while simultaneously decreasing oxidative stress in the brain. While many foods can be enjoyed safely when consumed in moderation, others can lead to adverse health outcomes when eaten excessively, such as processed sugars such as high-fructose corn syrup, salt and saturated fats. A balanced diet can reduce your risks of heart disease, diabetes and obesity while supporting strong bones, healthy skin & hair and optimal performance.