Carbohydrates are an essential component of the diet, and many high carb foods offer excellent health benefits.

Carbohydrates provide essential fuel for the body and are necessary for it to function efficiently.

In this article, we look at 15 high carb foods and consider what they can do for your health.

Minimally-processed fruits, vegetables, and pulses are good sources of carbohydrates and often contain a variety of other vitamins and minerals. By comparison, highly processed, refined carbohydrate products often contain fewer or none of these additional nutrients.

These foods can help increase the carbohydrate content of a person’s diet. Eating a varied, nutritionally-balanced diet rich in whole foods can help promote overall good health.

Healthful, whole-food carbohydrate sources include:

Learn more about the health benefits of eating a balanced diet here.

Vegetables

Adding these healthful, high carb vegetables to a meal will boost its carbohydrate content:

1. Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a delicious favorite to include in a range of meals.

One large 180 gram (g) baked sweet potato with the skin has 37.3 g of carbohydrates. Sweet potatoes are also an excellent source of potassium and vitamins A and C.

A 2015 study found that some carbohydrate molecules in purple sweet potato may also have antioxidant and antitumor benefits.

2. Beetroot

Beetroots, or beets, are a sweet, purple root vegetable that people can eat either raw or cooked.

One cup of raw beets has 13 g of carbohydrates. Beets are rich in potassium, calcium, folate, and vitamin A. They also provide people with naturally occurring inorganic nitrates that can benefit heart health.

3. Corn

Corn is a popular vegetable that people can enjoy year-round as a side dish, on the cob, or in a salad.

A measure of 100 g of corn contains 18.7 g of carbohydrates and 3.27 g of protein. It also provides a good amount of vitamin C.

High carb grains

Grains and pseudograins, the seeds of broadleaf plants, are great sources of carbohydrates. Whole-grain varieties provide protein and fiber and offer plenty of additional healthful benefits.

Grains are versatile and can form the main part of many meals. Rather than eating white rice and white bread, people can incorporate the following healthful high carb grains into their diet:

4. Quinoa

Quinoa is a nutritious pseudograin. It tastes similar to other types of grain, and people can prepare and eat it similarly.

One cup of cooked quinoa contains 39.4 g of carbohydrates, 8.14 g of protein, and only 1.61 g of sugar.

Quinoa is also rich in minerals, including magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus.

5. Brown rice

Brown rice is a common side dish and a healthful alternative to white rice. One cup of cooked brown rice has 45.8 g of carbohydrates.

This grain is also rich in antioxidants.

6. Oats

Oats are versatile whole grains. Different varieties are available, including rolled, steel-cut, and quick oats.

A cup of uncooked oats provides 103 g of carbohydrates, 26.4 g of protein and 16.5 g of fiber.

Nutrients in oats can help promote heart health. Research has shown that oat fiber can reduce the risk of cardiovascular events in patients with coronary artery disease.

High carb fruits

Fruits are an excellent source of healthful carbohydrates, particularly those below:

7. Bananas

Bananas are widely available and make for a convenient snack.

One medium banana has 26.9 g of carbohydrates. Like sweet potatoes, they are also rich in potassium and vitamins A and C.

Research shows that potassium intake can help improve heart health and lower blood pressure.

8. Apples

There are several different types of apple, each with its specific nutritional content.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that one medium apple contains 20.6 g of carbohydrates. It also provides vitamins A and C, potassium, and fiber.

According to a study involving older women, apples may lower the risk of disease-related mortality, including cancer mortality.

9. Mangos

Mangos are a sweet tropical fruit. One cup of chopped mangos has 24.8 g of carbohydrates.

Mangos are also high in vitamins A and C, potassium, and fiber.

High carb dried fruits

Healthful dried fruits can help people achieve their daily carbohydrate needs. However, some dried fruit products contain additional sugars to increase their sweetness. People looking to eat more dried fruits should carefully check labels for added sugars and prioritize minimally-processed options.

People can try eating the following dried fruits alone as a snack or adding them to a trail mix or meal:

10. Dates

There are many varieties of dates, and they are naturally sweet enough to be used as a sweet snack or dessert.

There are 18 g of carbohydrates in one pitted Medjool date. This fruit is also rich in fiber, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and vitamin A.

11. Raisins

Raisins are dried grapes that work as a stand-alone snack or can add flavor and texture to cereal bars, salads, yogurts, or granola.

One cup of raisins packs in 130 g of carbohydrates. They also contain potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, and calcium.

Raisins are a good source of antioxidants too. Antioxidants are natural substances that can slow damage to cells from free radicals.

Learn more about the health benefits of antioxidants here.

12. Goji berries

There are 77 g of carbohydrates and 13 g of fiber in 100g of Goji berries. They are also a great source of vitamin A.

Due to their high antioxidant content people often refer to goji berries as a ‘superfood’.

High carb pulses

Pulses, such as beans and lentils, are high in carbohydrates, protein, and fiber. They are a great addition to any diet and can help people feel fuller for longer.

Try the following healthful, high carb pulses:

13. Kidney beans

Kidney beans belong to the legume family. They are one of the most common beans to include in the diet.

One cup of boiled kidney beans has 40 g of carbohydrates. They are also a good source of protein and fiber, with 15.3 g and 13.1 g per cup, respectively.

These beans also contain potassium and iron. The consumption of white or dark kidney beans may improve inflammation in the colon.

14. Garbanzo beans

Garbanzo beans, or chickpeas, are also legumes. They are the primary ingredient of hummus.

One cup of cooked garbanzo beans contains 44.9 g of carbohydrates and 14.5 g of protein.

Garbanzo beans are also rich in fiber and calcium.

15. Lentils

Lentils are popular high protein legumes. One cup of boiled lentils provides 39.8 g of carbohydrates along with 17.9 g of protein and 15.6 g of fiber.

Lentils are high in phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and folate.

People should limit or avoid refined carbohydrates with little or no nutritional content for a healthful diet. Processing or refining carbohydrates removes many of their nutrients.

High carb foods that people should try to avoid include:

  • candy
  • sugary breakfast cereals
  • white pasta
  • white bread
  • white rice
  • cookies, muffins, and other baked products
  • flavored and sweetened yogurt
  • potato chips
  • sugary juices
  • sodas
  • foods and drinks with a high fructose corn syrup content
  • foods and drinks high in refined sugar
  • processed foods

Carbohydrates are one of the main nutrients that the body needs, along with protein and fats.

Typically, the most healthful diet a person can eat is one that balances all key nutrients. However, some people advocate for low-carbohydrate diets in certain circumstances.

  • Blood sugar control: Limiting carbohydrate intake can help people with type 2 diabetes manage their blood sugar levels. However, people with type 2 diabetes should consult their doctor to discuss all treatment options before making wholesale dietary changes.
  • Weight loss: Limiting carbohydrate intake can lead to short-term weight loss. However, this is partly due to water loss in the early stages, and the pace of weight loss decreases with time. People should always consult a medical professional before engaging in any restrictive dieting.
  • Cholesterol levels: Some research suggests that a low carbohydrate diet can improve high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels. People often refer to this as “good” cholesterol. However, research into the effect of carbohydrates and low-density lipoprotein, or “bad” cholesterol, remains controversial and inconclusive.

Carbohydrates are essential for the proper working of the body. Excluding carbohydrates from the diet can lead to nutritional imbalances without an adequate nutrition plan.

People should only limit carbohydrates in their diet after consulting their doctor.

When it comes to carbohydrates, the rule of thumb is to select whole foods and avoid processed and refined carbohydrates.

Whole foods high in carbohydrates generally offer lots of essential nutrients and health benefits for the body.

People with a specific health issue or concern should talk with their doctor or a registered dietitian to determine which high carb foods are right for them.