Carbohydrates are delicious and contain some of the most beneficial health-enhancing nutrients that our bodies need. And they’re here to stay.
The United States Dietary Guidelines USDA 2015-2020 recommends getting 45 to 65 percent of your energy needs from carbohydrates.
So why do carbs get such a bad rap? Well, that’s because there are two types of carbs — complex and simple — and our bodies require different amounts of each.
According to the USDA, most of the carbs you should be getting from your diet should be complex carbohydrates: the unprocessed, fiber-laden, long chain complex carbohydrates like whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. Less than 10 percent should be coming from simple carbohydrates, like table sugar, refined or processed.
What do carbs do for us?
Bottom line, our brain prefers glucose as fuel. When the concentration of glucose in your bloodstream falls short, your brain lets you know quickly — you may feel lightheaded, dizzy, or lethargic, for example. Complex carbohydrates give us high-quality fuel for the brain, central nervous system function, and our gut bacteria.
Here are some of the most beneficial carbs for our bodies:
Yes, you can eat pizza! If you make it right, that is. Make it with a thin crust (preferably whole grain or gluten-free) and load it up with tomato sauce or pesto sauce, plus lots of flavorful vegetables.
This powerhouse seed acts and tastes like a nutty grain, but it’s actually a gluten-free seed. It’s higher in nutrients and protein than most grains, meaning that you can forego the cholesterol, saturated fat, and cancer-causing compounds found in animal proteins.
Lentils are quick and easy to prepare in comparison to other types of beans. They’re high in protein and a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber, which can be helpful for people with diabetes, as fiber prevents blood sugar levels from rising too rapidly after a meal. Lentils contain many important minerals including iron, magnesium, and folate.
Dates can help fend off everything from night blindness to anemia, and constipation to seasonal allergies. The significant amounts of minerals found in dates like iron, calcium, and potassium can help with healthy bone development and maintaining a healthy gut.
Oats play a vital role in improving our feeling of fullness, and can be a boon to our digestive, cardiovascular, and overall metabolic health. Oats are rich in a specific type of fiber called beta-glucan known to help lower levels of bad cholesterol.
6. Whole wheat pastas
Give pasta a chance, in smaller portions and especially when paired with a variety of vegetables.
7. Black beans
Black beans are classified as legumes. They’re easy to make, and chock full of protein, fiber, and iron. They also contain many minerals important in building and maintaining bone structure and strength, and contain selenium, which plays a role in liver enzyme function and helps to detoxify cancer causing compounds in the body.
Apples are one of the best sources of carbs you can eat, since they contain large amounts of pectin, which helps keep you feeling full, as well as vitamin C and potassium. They’re also rich in natural sugars, which digest more slowly than those found in processed foods.
Chickpeas are particularly high in fiber and are loaded with health-building and bone-building minerals, including vitamin K, phosphate, and calcium.
Pears offer a large dose of potassium, vitamin C, magnesium, and fiber. They’re decadently sweet and aid in cleansing the digestive tract.
Bananas are versatile as well as portable. They can also help relieve inflammation, nausea, stomach ulcers, depression, and even anxiety.
12. Sweet potatoes
A member of the squash family, sweet potatoes are a crowd favorite and an excellent source of vitamin C, magnesium, vitamin B-6, and fiber. They’re low on the glycemic index and can work wonderfully as either a side or a main dish