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13 Incredibly healthy foods high in carbohydrates

Carbohydrates have a bad reputation among slimming people, but many healthy foods are high in carbohydrates...

Over the years, carbohydrates have acquired a bad reputation. People often associate them with obesity, type 2 diabetes and other health problems.

On the one hand, this is justified, as our diets are increasingly based on processed foods high in sugar (and salt), but generally lacking in important vitamins and minerals.


The problem is not carbohydrates, but eating too many of them, often without even realising it (because we don’t read the nutritional labels).

Many foods rich in carbohydrates and fibre can actually be very good for you.

Here are 13 foods high in carbohydrates that are incredibly healthy:


1 Quinoa

Quinoa is a nutritious seed classified as a pseudograin (a seed that is cooked and eaten like a cereal).

Cooked quinoa contains 70% carbohydrates but is also a good source of protein, fibre, vitamins (especially B vitamins) and micronutrients (such as magnesium, iron and potassium).


Quinoa health benefits:

  • Support muscle recovery and growth as it is one of the few plant-based products containing all nine essential amino acids.
  • It promotes muscle and nerve function as it is rich in minerals (magnesium promotes muscle and nerve function, iron helps oxygen transport, and potassium helps regulate blood pressure).
  • It aids digestion and helps maintain stable blood sugar levels as it is rich in fibre.

Quinoa is also very nutritious and gluten-free, making it a popular alternative to wheat for people with gluten intolerance.


Quinoa can be used as a base for salads, instead of rice or pasta, or as a breakfast porridge with fruit and nuts.


2 Buckwheat

Like quinoa, buckwheat is considered a pseudograin.

100 g of raw buckwheat contains 75 grams of carbohydrates, while 100 g of cooked buckwheat contains ~19.9 g of carbohydrates. Buckwheat contains more minerals and antioxidants than many cereals.

Buckwheat is also a good source of fibre, plant protein, essential amino acids, vitamins (such as B vitamins, especially niacin, folate and vitamin B6) and minerals (such as magnesium, manganese and copper).


Buckwheat is gluten-free, making it suitable for people with coeliac disease or gluten intolerance.


Health benefits of buckwheat:

  • Buckwheat contains a significant amount of plant protein, including all nine essential amino acids.
  • Buckwheat provides essential minerals such as magnesium, which is important for bone health, muscle function and metabolism in general.
  • The fibre, magnesium and rutin in buckwheat contribute to heart health (can help lower blood pressure, lower ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol and improve overall cardiovascular health).
  • Fibre helps to maintain digestive health by increasing stool volume and promoting regular bowel movements.
  • Fibre also helps to regulate blood sugar levels and provides satiety (thus helping to regulate weight).

Cook buckwheat like rice or quinoa, use it as a base for salads or as a side dish, use buckwheat flour to bake pancakes, waffles, breads, muffins and other baked goods. Try Soba noodles – they can be used in soups, stews or cold salads… Make buckwheat porridge and vary the flavour with sweet or savoury toppings. You can also make buckwheat popcorn.


3 Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes or yams are a tasty and nutritious root vegetable.

100 g (~half a glass) of sweet potato puree cooked with the skin contains about 20.7 g of complex carbohydrates (starch, sugar and fibre), beta-carotene, vitamin C and minerals such as potassium and manganese.


Health benefits of sweet potatoes:

  • Beta-carotene (which gives potatoes their reddish-yellow colour) is converted in our bodies into vitamin A (retinol), which is essential for eye health, a strong immune system and healthy skin and mucous membranes.
  • Antioxidants reduce inflammation and promote general health.
  • Fibre promotes digestion and blood sugar control.

Sweet potatoes are great for baking and pureeing, and can also be used in soups, stews or as a base for healthy desserts.


4 Wholegrain oat flakes

Raw oats contain 70 % carbohydrate. 1 cup (~81 grams) of oats contains ~54 grams of carbohydrates and a lot (~8 grams) of fibre, especially the biologically active beta-glucans.

Oats are also a relatively good source of protein (contains more protein than most cereals). They are high in vitamins and minerals such as manganese, phosphorus and magnesium.


Health benefits of oats:


Oatmeal porridge makes a great breakfast, wholegrain oat flakes can be added to baked goods (both ground and whole), can be used to make granola or grillage candies and can be used to create delicious desserts.


5 Bananas

One large banana (~136 g) contains about 31 grams of carbohydrates (in the form of starches and sugars).

Bananas are also high in fibre, potassium, vitamin B6 and vitamin C.

Unripe bananas contain more pectin (which contributes to digestive health and provides fuel for the beneficial bacteria in the gut) and resistant starch, turning into natural sugars as they turn yellow. In other words, eating bananas that are not fully ripe will give you more starch and less sugar.


Health benefits of bananas:


Eat bananas, use them in smoothies, with breakfast cereals or yoghurt, in cocktails, or bake them (fried bananas are also very tasty).


6 Brown rice

100 g cooked brown rice contains about 23 g carbohydrates.

Brown rice is also rich in fibre, protein and important nutrients such as B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, iron, selenium…


The health benefits of brown rice:

  • Magnesium and fibre promote heart health.
  • Reduces the risk of diabetes because brown rice has a low glycaemic index, which means that blood sugar levels do not rise or rise slowly after eating.
  • The fibre aids digestion, promotes gut health and ensures long-lasting satiety.

Use as a base for stir-fries, with salads or vegetables and as a side dish with meat or fish.


7 Chickpeas

Chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans) like other legumes are very healthy.

100 g of cooked chickpeas contain 27.4 g of carbohydrates and almost 8 g of fibre. Chickpeas are also a good source of vegetable protein and are therefore particularly valuable for vegetarians and vegans. They are also rich in vitamins and minerals, including calcium, magnesium, iron, and phosphorus… as well as, K and B vitamins.


The health benefits of chickpeas:

  • Chickpeas improve heart and digestive health, and some studies suggest that they may also help protect against some types of cancer.
  • Protein promotes muscle repair, growth and general body maintenance.
  • Calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and vitamin K, promote bone health and help maintain strong bones.
  • The high fibre content will help maintain a healthy digestive system by promoting regular bowel movements and preventing constipation.

Use chickpeas in salads, add them to soups and stews, use them as a base for curries, roast them with olive oil and spices for a crunchy and nutritious snack, mix them with tahini, lemon juice, garlic and olive oil to make hummus as a healthy dip or spread, use chickpea flour to bake bread, cakes and biscuits


8 Beetroot

100 g of beetroot (both raw and cooked) contains about 10 g of carbohydrates, mainly in the form of natural sugars and fibre.

They are also rich in vitamins and minerals (folate, manganese and potassium), as well as powerful antioxidants and bioactive plant compounds

Beets are also rich in inorganic nitrates, which the body converts to nitric oxide.


Health benefits of beetroot:

  • Nitric oxide lowers blood pressure and relaxes blood vessels, allowing oxygen to flow more efficiently during exercise, which is why athletes sometimes drink beetroot juice before competitions to enhance their physical performance and endurance.
  • Antioxidants help to protect against oxidative stress.

Add beetroot to salads, squeeze the juice and drink it as it is, mix it into smoothies or shakes, or use it to make desserts.


9 Oranges

100 g of oranges contain about 15.5 grams of carbohydrates.

Oranges are particularly rich in vitamin C, potassium and some B vitamins. In addition, they contain citric acid as well as several powerful bioactive plant compounds and antioxidants.

Oranges are also a good source of fibre.


Health benefits of oranges:

  • May improve heart health.
  • May help prevent kidney stones.
  • Promotes iron absorption from other foods, which may help prevent iron deficiency anaemia.
  • Vitamin C and other antioxidants strengthen the immune system and help the body fight infections and diseases.
  • Vitamin C plays a crucial role in the formation of collagen (a protein essential for skin health and appearance).

The best way to consume oranges is to eat them whole or in a salad, as drinking orange juice prevents the absorption of fibre and related substances.


10 Blueberries

100 g blueberries contain about 14.5 g carbohydrates.

Blueberries are often called a superfood because they are high in antioxidants.


Blueberries are also high in vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, vitamin K and manganese.


The health benefits of blueberries:

  • Regular consumption of blueberries is associated with a lower risk of heart disease (helps lower cholesterol, lowers blood pressure and improves vascular function).
  • Studies have shown that eating blueberries can even improve memory in the elderly.
  • Despite their sweetness, blueberries have a low glycemic index and can help regulate blood sugar levels.
  • Vitamin C is necessary for the production of collagen, which helps to maintain skin elasticity and reduce wrinkles.
  • Antioxidants help protect the skin from damage caused by environmental factors such as sun exposure and pollution.
  • Fibre slows down the absorption of sugar into the blood, preventing sugar levels from spiking.

Eat blueberries whole (blueberries are delicious frozen), add blueberries to salads and bake them into cakes, muffins, pancakes, scones…, and make sauces, jams and desserts.


11 Grapefruit

100 g of grapefruit contains about 8 g of carbohydrates. Grapefruit is low in calories but is an excellent source of vitamins A and C and contains small amounts of B vitamins, potassium and magnesium.


Health benefits of grapefruit:


Eat them whole, add them to salads, bake flatbreads, cupcakes and other pastries with them.


12 Apples

Although apples vary widely in appearance and taste, 100 g of apples usually contain around 14-16 g of carbohydrates.

Apples are rich in vitamins and minerals but usually only in small amounts.

However, they are a good source of vitamin C, antioxidants and fibre (especially pectin).

Apples also contain various phytonutrients, including flavonoids and polyphenols, which increase their health benefits.


Health benefits of apples:


Apples like all fruits can be eaten whole or dried or added to salads, but they can also be used in baked goods and smoothies.


13 Kidney beans

100 g of cooked beans contain approximately 21.5 grams of carbohydrates in the form of starch and fibre. These legumes are also rich in vitamins, minerals and plant compounds.


They are also high in protein, making them an excellent source of plant-based protein.


The health benefits of kidney beans:


Add cooked beans to salads, they are a great addition to soups, stews, chilli, burritos, tacos… Use beans as a side dish to main dishes, make bean puree, and make bean hummus (adding garlic, lemon juice and olive oil).


Key takeaways

It is a myth that all carbohydrates are unhealthy. In fact, many of the healthiest foods are high in carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates are mainly a source of energy, good mood and well-being. We need them and it is very unwise to give them up categorically.


Carbohydrates are different:

  • Refined or ‘fast’ carbohydrates (sugar, white flour products, etc.) give us energy quickly, but in large quantities, they can be unhealthy.
  • Complex or ‘slow’ carbohydrates give us energy gradually – it lasts longer and keeps us feeling fuller for longer.

In other words, if you want to eat healthily, avoid processed foods (sugary drinks, packet juices, sausages, processed meats, chips, white flour products, etc.) and eat more whole grains, vegetables and fruit.


Eat delicious food, eat balanced, move and – be healthy!


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Physiological Effects Associated with Quinoa Consumption and Implications for Research Involving Humans: a Review

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