10 Healthy Carbohydrate Sources
Before reviewing the list of 10 healthy carbohydrate sources, you may be a little curious about what carbohydrates are exactly, and what carbohydrates do for your body. Here is a quick overview of some useful information about carbohydrates:
- They are made up of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen to create a sugar molecule.
- The three most common forms of carbohydrates are sugars, fibers and starches.
- They are grouped into two categories: simple and complex.
- Simple carbohydrates are mainly made up of sugars like table sugar, fruit sugar or corn sugar.
- Complex carbohydrates are foods made up of three or more linked sugars like bran, potatoes, brown rice, peas and whole grain cereals.
- They are broken down and are turned into glucose to be used as a source of energy for cells.
Often times, you'll hear about diets that completely eliminate carbohydrates, giving people the impression that carbohydrates are bad. Though they are not considered an essential nutrient, carbohydrates are not necessarily bad for you. Essential nutrients for the body include vitamins, essential fatty and amino acids, water, oxygen and dietary minerals like iron or calcium. Carbohydrates are still useful to the body because they act as a source of energy, and with these 10 sources of healthy carbohydrates, your body will benefit in more ways than one:
High in fiber, brown rice is considered an excellent source for healthy carbohydrates. It is packed with nutrients like magnesium, iron, vitamin B, vitamin B2, vitamin B3 and vitamin B6. Brown rice can help reduce LDL cholesterol, also known as the "bad" cholesterol, while leaving HDL cholesterol, also known as the "good" cholesterol, unchanged. Studies have also shown that eating two or more servings of brown rice per week leads to a reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes.
Whole Wheat Bread
Whole wheat bread, and other breads made from 100 percent whole wheat grains are another good source for healthy carbohydrates. Unlike white bread, whole wheat bread still contains the bran and germ of the grains, which is where a majority of the nutrients in bread can be found. Whole wheat bread that contains all of the original contents of whole grains can help prevent cardiovascular disease and boost the body's metabolism.
Used as a primary source of protein in vegetarian diets, beans are a healthy source of carbohydrates. They are high in fiber and help the digestive system since they are a form of slowly digested carbohydrates.
High levels of vitamin C and vitamin E make berries a very appealing source for good carbohydrates. Aside from the vitamins and nutrients found in berries, the phytonutrients act as antioxidants for the body and provide numerous health benefits.
Leafy Green Vegetables
Spinach, cabbage and broccoli can all be categorized as leafy green vegetables, and are a low calorie source of carbohydrates. They are also filled with important nutrients like calcium and vitamin K, and they are a valuable source of carbohydrates for anyone suffering from Type 2 diabetes. These vegetables are also known for reducing the risk of cancer and heart disease due to their high fiber, low-fat content. Other important nutrients found in leafy green vegetables are vitamin C, potassium, magnesium and folic acid.
Stomach ulcers, diabetes, weight gain, asthma and arthritis to name some of the ailments and health issues that sweet potatoes can help with making them another good source for carbohydrates. As far as nutrients are concerned, sweet potatoes contain fiber, manganese, copper, potassium, iron, vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin B6. Sweet potatoes are also rich in beta-carotene, which is an antioxidant found in other healthy vegetables like the aforementioned leafy green vegetable.
Like beans, peas are a good source for carbohydrates, and digest slowly, making them a good food source for individuals who can't process sugar well. Peas have an abundance of vitamin K, manganese, vitamin C and provide high levels of dietary fiber. They also contain sufficient amounts of folate, vitamin A, tryptophan, phosphorus, vitamin B6, magnesium, vitamin B3, iron, potassium, zinc and vitamin B2. That's a lot of nutrients packed into a tiny green pea.
Oatmeal is a great substitute for sugary cereals and pastries as a part of your morning breakfast. It is a soluble fiber that can reduce LDL cholesterol, has cancer-fighting properties, and slows down the digestion of starch making it beneficial to diabetics.
Whole Grain Cereals
Like whole wheat bread, cereals that are made up of whole grains provide a significant source of vitamins and other nutrients while acting as a good and healthy source for carbohydrates.
If you're looking for healthy sources of carbohydrates, apples definitely need to be on your grocery list. There are a plethora of health benefits associated with this amazing fruit, including asthma relief, improved digestion, reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and a reduced risk of cancer, just to name a few. Apples are also low in calories and provide a significant amount of nutrients and vitamins like calcium, vitamin C, vitamin A, folate, vitamin K and potassium.
Next time you're at the market shopping for good and healthy carbohydrate sources, be sure to add a few or all of these foods to your grocery kart. Not only are they great sources for carbohydrates, they also have numerous health benefits and contain a significant amount of nutrients that can be used to fulfill your daily recommended nutritional values.