Carbohydrates have been in the negative limelight for quite some time due to their ability to raise blood glucose and lead to several health conditions. However, not all carbs are unhealthy, and including the right options in your diet can be beneficial for your health. Let’s learn about foods rich in carbohydrates and elements of carbohydrates that add to our wellbeing.
Carbohydrates have earned a bad reputation over time. They are frequently associated with type 2 diabetes, weight gain, and a variety of other health problems. True, refined grains and sugary processed diets frequently lack essential vitamins and minerals. However, eating a variety of nutrient-dense, fiber rich meals may be extremely beneficial to your health.
Although low-carb diets may benefit some people, there is no reason to completely avoid high-carb foods entirely.
Importance of Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are a type of macronutrient consumed in the diet which acts as fuel for our body. Carbs take on the role of supplying energy to our cells, and in doing so, they allow the proteins to carry on with their function of growth and maintenance, a phenomenon known as "protein sparing action." They are also an important source of dietary fibre and are attributed to imparting a sweet flavour to foods. Hence, you must include foods that contain carbohydrates in your diet.
Good Carbohydrate Foods
While many modern day processed carbohydrates are high in sugar and should be avoided, we’ve compiled a list of foods rich in carbohydrates that are good for overall health:
Quinoa:The carbohydrate content of quinoa seeds ranges from 49% to 68%. The form of carbohydrates generally present in plant seeds is starch, which is the storage form of energy. Quinoa starch also exhibits functional properties, which implies it has a high water absorption capacity, allowing it to swell and form gels. It can thus be easily incorporated into foods as a thickener, as used in this Khichdi, for instance. Apart from being rich in carbohydrates, quinoa is also high in dietary fibre, protein, and minerals like calcium and iron.
Oats:The nutritional composition of oats is well-balanced. It is a good source of carbohydrates and quality protein, with a varied amino acid balance. Oat starch constitutes about 60 % of the oat grain. A high fraction of starch in oats is slowly digestible starch (SDS) and resistant starch (RS). SDS ensures the balance of blood glucose and prevents undesired spikes in sugar levels. It also enhances the nutritional quality of the food. Resistant starch from oats, on the other hand, is beneficial for the good bacteria in our gut. It also fulfils the function of imparting a better appearance, texture and mouthfeel to foods.
Corn:Corn is an important cereal in the list of carbohydrate foods. It provides fuel for the body and mind to function well. Since it contains complex carbohydrates that are slowly digested, it helps to provide satiety, making one feel full for a longer time and lowering the risk of diseases like type 2 diabetes and obesity. Apart from being a good carbohydrate food, it also has good amounts of vitamins like A, B, E, and K and minerals like magnesium. Corn serves as a good post-workout snack and can be eaten as a delicious salad.
Chickpeas:Every serving of chickpeas (30 g) contains 11.85 g of carbohydrates. Chickpeas are a source of many kinds of carbohydrates, including glucose, which is an instant source of energy, and oligosaccharides which are formed from two sugars linked to each other. Raffinose is the name of the oligosaccharide found in chickpeas and is fermented by the bacteria in our large intestine, thus helping them survive and flourish. You may want to try out this sweet potato and chickpea cutlet for a boost of healthy carbs!
Beetroot:As a root, beetroot contains a high amount of starch essential to supply energy to the growing plant. It contains active plant components called betalains. An uncommon fact regarding beetroot is that it is one of the ten plants that show the highest antioxidant potential. Thus, it is safe to say that beetroot is one of the vegetables rich in carbohydrates and offers a host of benefits.
Sweet Potato:Starch is present in the storage roots of the sweet potato and forms a fundamental component. Sweet potatoes are not only a food rich in carbohydrates but are also an excellent source of Vitamin A, a micronutrient needed for healthy skin and eye function. Since sweet potatoes contain simple sugars that can increase blood glucose levels immediately upon consumption, it is wise to consume them in moderation. Each serving of sweet potato contains 7 g of carbohydrates and can be eaten in the form of Upma or Chaat.
Banana:Banana is a carbohydrate food, and a medium-sized banana (50 g) contains about 7 g of carbohydrates in the form of starch. The carbohydrates in bananas, along with the antioxidants like flavonoids and carotenoids, are proven to be exceptionally beneficial. They strengthen the digestive tract and many other organs, protecting the cells.
Dates:The element of carbohydrates present in dates is sugar, which serves as an instant source of energy in the body. A handful of it (20 g) contains about 14.5 g of carbohydrates. Date is also a good source of dietary fibre, which contributes to its nutritional significance. It induces satiety and increases stool weight, allowing its easy passage. Dietary fibre, which is a component of carbs, exhibits a therapeutic effect and can help lower cholesterol levels. Moreover, it has a role to play in reducing the risk of diseases like diabetes and hypertension.
Apple:Apple is one of the foods that contain carbohydrates and has a positive glycemic response - preventing the immediate increase in blood sugar. It is suggested that the dietary fibre present in apples may be responsible for enhancing satiety. It has the added advantage of providing phytochemicals and micronutrients that help in the growth of the gut microbiota and the prevention of several chronic diseases.
Orange:In the list of carbohydrate foods, orange also takes a significant place. Every 100 g provides 7.9 g of carbohydrates. Citrus fruits are also a wonderful source of Vitamin C, required for a healthy immune system. While orange can be consumed by itself, alternatives include Orange Barfi and Iced Tea if you’re looking for creative recipes.
Carbohydrates are essential nutrients and aren’t the culprits they’re often portrayed as. It’s wise to ensure you consume healthy carbohydrates as part of a balanced meal because eliminating them completely would deplete your energy reserves. Try the fruits and vegetables rich in carbohydrates mentioned above to achieve your health goals faster.