Carbohydrates are body’s main source of energy and are mainly obtained from plants and dairy products.
The human body needs a certain amount of carbohydrate intake so that it can be broken down into glucose and converted into energy. Carbohydrates are found in almost all living things and play a critical role in the proper functioning of the immune system, fertilization, blood clotting, and human development. Eating too many carbohydrates can lead to weight gain and high blood sugar levels, especially for people with diabetes and pre-diabetes.
Carbohydrates are divided into simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates. The difference lies in the molecular structure and the time needed for the breakdown of these molecules. Simple carbohydrates are made of one or two sugar molecules and are easily digested.
Complex carbohydrates take time to break down into glucose. Foods rich in complex carbohydrates and fiber are called good carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates include sugars found in foods such as fruits and milk products and sugars added during food processing. Foods rich in white flour and added sugars are called bad carbohydrates.
Modern agriculture and processing has lead to nutritionally poor grains. However, with a bit of know-how in the cooking department, there are many less known grains that are nutritionally rich. This list includes brown rice, buckwheat, bulgur, popcorn, millet, wild rice, whole-grain barley, rye, and oats.
Potatoes also contain good amounts of carbohydrates in the form of starch. 1 cup serving of boiled potatoes contains 31 grams of carbohydrates and a cup of mashed potatoes include 36 grams of carbs. Hash browns have the highest amount of carbohydrates with 35% while french fries contain 27% of carbs. Potatoes are also rich in potassium. One medium sized potato has just 110 calories and is completely free of sodium, cholesterol and fat which make them a downright undeniable for any diet. They also contain Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, fibers and iron.
Apples are great for you in many ways. But if you are trying to watch your carbohydrate intake, go for a strawberry or some kiwi instead. One apple contains about 21 grams of carbohydrates.
Sweet and juicy berries are rich in pro-anthocyanin natural pigments and antioxidants. Berries like strawberries, blueberries and blackberries also contain a significant amount of carbs. Both blackberries and strawberries contain 14 grams of carbs while blueberries have a higher count of carbohydrates of 21 grams for 1 cup. These berries also help to get rid of harmful oxygen from the body and protect the body against cancer and other infections.
When you drink your fruit instead of eating it, you miss out on the fiber that lowers the glycemic impact of the food. Moreover, people rarely just drink the half cup of fruit juice that equals one whole serving of fruit. A smoothie is usually much more than half a cup and often contains other ingredients with added sugar like frozen yogurt.
Nuts and legumes
Legumes rank next in importance to cereals as good food sources. They contain more proteins than any other vegetable and thus are akin to animal meat in food value. Just like grains, nuts and legumes are also rich in complex carbohydrates. Apart from carbohydrates, they also contain proteins, omega 3 fatty acids and a range of vitamins and minerals. They are also high in fiber which aids in digestion and helps in maintaining healthy weight. Nuts and legumes which contain a good amount of proteins are lentils, chick peas, split peas, soybeans, kidney beans and pinto beans.
Besides tasting great and being low in calories because of its high water content, water melon is an excellent source of vitamin C, which is a major antioxidant and beta carotene thus providing a fair amount of Vitamin A which prevents cataract and improves eye sight. ½ cup of dices watermelons contain 5.5 grams of carbohydrates and has an average glycemic index of 72.