Which Foods Are High In Carbohydrates?

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Carbohydrates your body uses for energy fall roughly into the two categories of sugars and starches. Both of these are broken down into simple sugars in your bloodstream. While fiber is also a carbohydrate, it isn't broken down and it is beneficial for your digestive health. You may want to cut back carbohydrates as part of a diet for diabetes or weight management.

Foods high in carbohydrate include the following foods and drinks.

High-Sugar Foods

Sugars can be used by the body quickly for energy and also have a faster effect on blood sugar. These foods are common sources of sugar in your diet.

  1. DrinksSugary beverages include everything from soft drinks to flavored coffee drinks to bottled iced tea. Also, cocktails can have a lot of sugar. When you are trying to cut back on carbs, you will want to explore beverages that are sugar-free. Flavored sparkling water can be a refreshing alternative. If you typically drink sweet beverages, making the swap here can make a big difference in your diet.
  2. Desserts: Cake, ice cream, candy, and other sweet treats are obvious sources of sugar. There are recipes and ideas for low-carb desserts so you can still have your cake, and eat it, too.
  3. Foods with Added Sugar:  Sugars are added to many foods because humans have a natural sweet tooth and find foods with sugar in them more pleasing. You'll want to substitute condiments that are low in carbs to make up the difference. The food industry has come up with many creative ways to say "sugar." On a nutrition label, look for molasses, honey, and other ingredients that mean added sugar. If you want to cut down on sugar, check the nutrition label on everything you buy. If any of the sugar-containing ingredients is listed near the top of the list on a food's nutrition label or if there is more than one in any one food, it is high in carbs.
  1. Fruits: Many fruits are naturally high in sugar, such as ripe bananas and figs. Dried fruit has very concentrated natural sugar and may have added sugar as well. Canned fruits may be packed in a sugar syrup. But fruit is part of a healthy diet and many contain beneficial fiber and vitamins, so check a list of low-carb fruits you can enjoy with less of a sugar load.

    High-Starch Foods

    Starches are basically long strands of glucose, so they all break down to sugars in the body. High-starch foods include:

    1. Starchy Vegetables: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, and corn are examples of high carb, starchy vegetables. A quick way to think of whether a vegetable is starchy is from the root up. Root vegetables and seeds are often the highest, followed by the fruits of the plant, with stems and leaves being lowest. But there are low-carb vegetables you can choose from any part of the plant. Vegetables can be a good source of fiber.
    2. Flour: Any food made with flour, including bread, crackers, donuts, cakes, cookies, and pastries is high in starch. This is true of whole grain flours as well, but not true of flours made from nuts or seeds, such as almond flour.
    3. Whole Grains: Rice, barley, oats, quinoa, and other whole grains are high in starch.
    4. Legumes: Beans and peas are high in starch, but it is more slowly digested, especially if the beans aren't canned or pureed.

    The Worst of the Worst

    The worst high-carb foods you can eat are the ones that are highly processed. This includes most breakfast cereals and foods made with white flour or other refined carbohydrates. It is far better to get your carbs from whole foods than from something manufactured.