A lot of people are still scared of eating carbs because of what they’ve been told over the past few years. Things like the Atkins diet and the keto diet have led people to believe that avoiding carbs is the only way to lose weight or live a healthy life.
But carbohydrates are critical to your health and should be consumed on a regular basis unless you have a specific health complication that dictates otherwise. However, it is important to remember that not all carbohydrates are created equal. To learn more about which carbs are healthiest and which ones to avoid, we spoke to some expert nutritionists.
Read on to learn about the best carbs to eat and for more healthy eating tips, check out 6 Best Eating Habits to Reduce Inflammation as You Age.
Sweet potatoes are healthy carbohydrates that offer many benefits and can be a nutritious addition to your daily diet.
“Regular consumption of sweet potatoes is a great addition to a balanced diet when trying to make healthy food choices. A plain medium-sized sweet potato has about 103 calories, and four of its 20 grams of carbs per serving come from fiber, a nutrient that keeps you satisfied and contributes to good gastrointestinal health. Its bright orange color indicates high levels of beta-carotene, which is essential for eye health,” says a Registered Dietitian Carrie Gabriel MS, RDN.
Curious how you can add these orange potatoes to your diet? Gabriel says, “Sweet potatoes are also easily loaded with other foods like black beans and salsa or ground turkey, spinach and some olive oil, or you can slice and fry them or toss them in the air fryer with some seasoning for a healthier version of fries fries.”
Because of its high fiber content, oats are among the healthiest carbohydrates you can eat.
“Oats are a carbohydrate I eat regularly because they are so versatile. Oatmeal contains soluble and insoluble fiber that aids in digestion and has been shown to have anti-diabetic and cholesterol-lowering properties. Cooking oatmeal traditionally on the stovetop is great. However, these days it’s also a popular way to consume this filling complex, to make overnight oats with a variety of fruits and nuts, or to bake oats in the oven into squares or muffins, cut them into wedges and serve them with a scoop of Greek yogurt carbohydrates,” says Gabriel.
People often choose quinoa as an alternative to rice, which can provide you with lots of beneficial fiber.
“Quinoa is a healthy source of carbohydrates that can be consumed on a regular basis. Not only does it contain fiber, but it is also a source of protein that helps you stay full and meet your daily needs,” says the Registered Dietitian Jinan Banna, PhD, RD.
Fruit is a great way to fit your daily servings of carbs, and their natural sweetness can also help curb sugar cravings.
“Apples are also high in soluble fiber with prebiotic benefits. Pectin is one such example, providing the necessary nutrition needed to support the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which fuel our gut microbiome. Plant sources such as beans, legumes, nuts and seeds are also high in this soluble fiber,” says the Registered Dietitian Rachel Fein, RDN and owner of To The Pointe Nutrition.
While many people are afraid of eating bread, there is no reason to fear a whole grain or whole grain bread as it contains many helpful nutrients.
“Whole grains (like quinoa, brown rice, and whole wheat bread) contain fiber, vitamins, and minerals that help keep you fuller for longer. They also provide satiety after a meal or snack, making you less likely to overeat,” says registered dietitian Janet Coleman, R.D with the Consumer Mag.
Although many people don’t think of them as carbohydrates, legumes and beans are a healthy source of carbohydrates.
“Legumes like beans, lentils, chickpeas are starchy but also an excellent source of plant-based protein and fiber. Many studies have found that their regular intake can improve heart health, blood pressure, cancer risk, and weight control,” she says, registered dietitian Vandana Sheth, RDN, CDCES, FAND.
Adding berries to your daily diet is a delicious way to ensure you’re getting the right nutrients your body needs on a daily basis.
“Berries are delicious, high in fiber, and high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They’re a perfect sweet treat on their own or added to a meal,” says Sheth.
And finally, don’t forget your veggies. These healthy carbohydrates are critical to your health and should be consumed on a regular basis.
“Vegetables are a great source of vitamins A and K, as well as potassium. They’re also low in calories, which is good news if you’re trying to lose weight,” says Coleman.