Carbohydrates are essential macronutrients that provide energy for vital body functions. They are divided in two categories: simple and complex carbohydrates. Sugars are simple carbohydrates that are readily digested by our body while complex carbohydrates like starch and fiber take time to break down into glucose. One gram of metabolized carbohydrate provides 4 calories to the body.
High amount of sugars and processed carbohydrates like white bread, pasta and sweetened beverages are unhealthy and cause weight gain. Complex carbohydrates supply necessary energy to body and help maintain healthy body weight
Foods Rich in Carbohydrates:
Whole grains are one of the richest sources of carbohydrates. Wheat, rice, whole corn, buckwheat, barley, millet and oats contain high quantities of complex carbohydrates. These carbohydrates fulfill the body's energy demand and large amount of dietary fiber maintains a healthy digestive system. Low glycemic index of whole grains helps control blood sugar level preventing the risk of diabetes.
Whole grains are rich in other vital nutrients contributing to overall good health.
Citrus fruits are rich in natural simple sugars such as sucrose, fructose and glucose that provide high amount of energy to the body. Fruits like grapefruit, tangerine and orange are abundant in carbohydrates and other nutrients that aid in organ functioning, growth and development. Citrus fruits are also a good source of dietary fiber, which prevents obesity and other chronic diseases.
A single serving of orange has about 14g carbs and a grapefruit has 18.5g (approx.) carbs that contribute to a healthy diet rich in carbohydrates.
Legumes and Nuts
Legumes are loaded with protein, fiber and carbohydrates. Legumes contain large amounts of complex carbohydrates - starch and fiber that help control blood cholesterol levels. Green peas, lentils, soybeans, peanuts, kidney beans and pinto beans are good sources of healthy carbs that provide energy and improve overall health. Adequate amounts of carbohydrates and fiber in legumes make them an ideal choice for weight management.
Legumes vary in the amount of carbohydrates. Green peas (100g) contain 14g carbohydrate and pinto beans (1 cup) can provide up to 45g of carbohydrates to meet the daily requirement.
Dried fruits like apricots, prunes, raisins and dates are concentrated with nutrients. They are foods with high carbs and fiber, in addition to sufficient quantities of vitamins, calcium, potassium and iron. Dried fruits are excellent source of instant energy and wholesome nutrition. They can be taken as a snack or in breakfast to satiate the nutrient pool of the body.
Dried fruits provide more calories in small servings, thus their consumption must be watched for optimum calorie intake. Eating more quantities of dry fruits can lead to weight gain.
Green vegetables are healthiest source of carbohydrates. High amount of fiber and fewer simple sugars make them ideal for daily consumption. Green leafy vegetables are non-starchy, containing fewer amounts of unhealthy carbohydrates. Vegetables like peas, beets, carrots and winter squash are most abundant in carbohydrates providing 11-16g carbs per cup. Other carbohydrate-rich vegetables are broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, spinach and zucchini.
Combining 2 cups of vegetables like peas and carrots with a cup of broccoli or zucchini in a salad provide 20-25g of carbohydrates, sufficiently meeting recommended daily fiber needs.
Bananas are the richest fruit source of carbohydrates. A medium-sized banana contains about 24g carbohydrate and 105 calories. They are also good source of fiber, vitamin B6, vitamin C and potassium. Unripe bananas contain more starch while ripe bananas are rich in sugars, fructose, sucrose and glucose. Bananas have a relatively low glycemic index of 48-52. High amount of fiber in bananas improves digestion and potassium content keeps heart healthy.
Include banana in regular diet as a fruit salad, thick shake or team it up with milk and cereal to boost your energy levels for the upcoming eventful day.
Fresh berries like strawberries, blueberries and blackberries are rich in antioxidants, vitamins and carbohydrates. They contain concentrated carbohydrates in the form of simple sugars and fiber. Blueberries (1 cup) contain 21g of carbohydrates and strawberries contain 14g of carbohydrates consisting both sugar and fiber. Berries are nutrient packed fruits that help fight chronic diseases like cancer and control cholesterol.
Berries are delicious source of nutrition; add them to yogurt or cereals for a healthy carbohydrate-rich diet.
Potatoes are one of the highest sources of carbohydrates in the form of starch. They also contain good amount of potassium, vitamin C and phytonutrients like carotenoids and flavonoids. Carbohydrates in potatoes are readily digestible and may increase blood glucose levels if consumed in large amounts. Fresh potatoes contain less carbs as compared to processed potato products like French fries or hash brown that may have as much as 35% carbs. Fresh potatoes are low on calorie count and contain only 110 calories for one medium-sized potato.
Potatoes are more healthy when consumed baked or boiled instead of processed fried food.
Apples are crunchy, juicy, tasty and provide large amount of energy. A serving of 100g of apples contain 14g carbohydrates and 53 calories. Apples are rich in fiber that takes time to digest thus providing continuous flow of energy to the body. Apples also contain considerable amount of phytonutrients and antioxidants making them a favorite choice for health lovers.
Eat apples daily for necessary energy requirement and for optimum health, as rightly said, 'An apple a day, keeps doctor away'.
Carbohydrates and Weight Loss Diet
Carbohydrates are most commonly mistaken as weight gaining foods but the fact is, they are one of the most important nutrients for the body. They are energy providers of the body. Right amount of carbs in diet are necessary for maintaining good health. Diet with very less or negligible carbohydrates can result in fatigue, muscle pain and other health related problems.
Balanced intake of carbohydrates is necessary for maintaining good health. Limit usage of processed and refined carbs and include more natural carbohydrates in diet to prevent weight gain and other chronic diseases.
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