Many people avoid carbohydrates, (carbs), due to fear of gaining weight; however, this does not have to be the case.
While I agree that monitoring total carb intake and basing it on your own body’s metabolism and hormones are key, choosing the right carb sources may benefit you in ways you never imagined.
In this article, I will break down some high carbohydrate sources that actually provide amazing benefits. If you are on a moderate to high carb diet, here are 6 of the healthiest carbs on the planet.
1. Eat Apples To Prevent Obesity
“An apple a day keeps the doctor away” – we all know this old saying which has been in everyday usage for over a century, but it does actually hold some truth.
In addition to their moderate amount of carbohydrates, consumption of apples can provide many different benefits.
Apples, especially types such as honey crisp, can have a very large volume, which can help keep you satisfied for longer. They are around 75% water and have upwards of 4 grams of fiber, making them a low energy dense food.
Fiber has many benefits, which can improve digestion and keep you feeling full, so an increased consumption is recommended.
Surprisingly, despite having upwards of 20 grams of carbohydrate per serving, one normal apple will set you back only about 80-100 calories, providing a relatively low-calorie snack for on the go.
Additionally, one study found that a certain ingredient, called polyphenols, in apples actually has anti-obesity effects by increasing fat burning and preventing further growth of fat cells (1).
Due to benefits from their fiber content and their potential anti-obesity effects, apples should be a staple in your diet.
2. Black Beans Are Fiber-Filled And Nutritious
Black beans are an often-overlooked health food. In addition to their fairly high carbohydrate composition, ranging from about 36 grams per cup, they also provide roughly 12 grams of fiber.
Additionally, black beans provide a large amount of protein at about 12 grams per cup, which can be beneficial for vegetarians or otherwise as a supplementary protein source.
Interestingly, a study indicated that black beans have a very high antioxidant content which may help play a role in reducing the risk of disease states such as cardiovascular disease, different types of cancer and diabetes (2).
3. Oats For Heart Health And Boosting Immune System
Oatmeal has been a staple for decades in the fitness world, and it is probably for a good reason.
Oatmeal unsurprisingly has a fairly high carbohydrate content, coming in at about 52 grams per 1 cup serving.
However, oats resemble many of the other carbs options mentioned, in that they provide around 8 grams of fiber per serving, so potentially helping with digestion and fullness.
Additionally, oats have a unique offering due to their high β-glucan (beta-glucan) content. β-glucan is a unique type of fiber as it has been shown to provide many benefits such as promoting heart health, helping to boost the immune system and acting as a potent antioxidant (3, 4, 5).
Additionally, despite being a grain, oats actually have a fairly high amount of dietary protein, which may help increase your total daily protein intake.
4. Quinoa – A Protein Powerhouse
I’ve ranked Quinoa as the best high carbohydrate food on this list due to it being a complete protein source, which means it provides all essential amino acids required to build new muscle!
Unlike many of the other carbohydrate sources listed, the protein in quinoa does not require being paired with other sources to make it complete. This makes quinoa a very attractive choice for vegetarians and those with relatively low protein intakes.
In a 1 cup serving, quinoa boasts almost 117 carbohydrates but also provides upwards of 22 grams of complete protein. Therefore one full serving of quinoa could easily be considered a full meal if you are an active athlete with a high carb intake.
Due to its abundant complete protein and fiber content, quinoa is one of the best plant or non-meat based options for increasing satiety and potentially reducing body weight (6, 7).
5. Milk Is a Complete Muscle Builder
Often regarded as only a protein source, milk actually contains a fairly large amount of carbohydrate at 12 grams per 8 oz. serving.
However, don’t let the carbohydrate content scare you. Milk protein is one of the best sources possible due to its very large leucine amount.
Leucine is a branched-chain amino acid that is responsible for initiating the muscle building process called protein synthesis. Luckily, milk protein provides a bunch of leucine and so is very effective.
For this reason, milk protein has been widely regarded as one of the best muscle building beverages around (8).
Additionally, many studies have revealed that those who consume milk and other dairy products are actually slimmer than those who do not, making it one of the healthiest foods you can consume which also happens to have a high carbohydrate content (9).
6. Blueberries Improve Cognition
Blueberries are an interesting food in that, despite their small size, they contain an abundance of carbohydrate, at approximately 21 grams per cup.
However, don’t let the carb amount fool you. Blueberries have been shown to contain high amounts of powerful antioxidants called anthocyanins, which may help prevent DNA damage (10).
Additionally, components of blueberries have been revealed to help reverse cognitive decline and improve spatial memory. This could be in part due to an increase in a growth factor termed BDNF or Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (11).
BDNF plays a role in the growth of new neurons or nerves that transmit information throughout the brain.
In addition to the relatively large amount of carbohydrates that blueberries provide, the other benefits certainly warrant consuming them on a regular basis.
6 Of The Healthiest Carbs On The Planet
Although many people regard carbohydrates to be the cause of disease states and obesity, some foods with relatively high amounts are actually quite beneficial for a number of different reasons.
In addition to carbohydrate, many of the foods listed provide high levels of disease-fighting antioxidants while also providing large amounts of dietary fiber to help keep you satisfied for longer.
If you want to learn about carb cycling and how to strategically use them to maximize your fat loss and physique efforts, you can download my proven blueprint here.
- 1. Boqué, Noemi, et al. “Prevention of diet-induced obesity by apple polyphenols in Wistar rats through regulation of adipocyte gene expression and DNA methylation patterns.” Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, 2013: [ePub ahead of print].
- 2. Xu, B., & Chang, S. K. (2009). Total phenolic, phenolic acid, anthocyanin, flavan-3-ol, and flavonol profiles and antioxidant properties of pinto and black beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) as affected by thermal processing. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry, 57(11), 4754-4764.
- 3. Chan, G. C. F., Chan, W. K., & Sze, D. M. Y. (2009). The effects of β-glucan on human immune and cancer cells. Journal of hematology & oncology, 2(1), 25.
- 4. Kofuji, K., Aoki, A., Tsubaki, K., Konishi, M., Isobe, T., & Murata, Y. (2012). Antioxidant activity of β-glucan. ISRN pharmaceutics, 2012.
- 5. Othman, R. A., Moghadasian, M. H., & Jones, P. J. (2011). Cholesterol-lowering effects of oat β-glucan. Nutrition reviews, 69(6), 299-309.
- 6. Westerterp, K. R. (2004). Diet induced thermogenesis. Nutrition & metabolism, 1(1), 5.
- 7. Bolton, R. P., Heaton, K. W., & Burroughs, L. F. (1981). The role of dietary fiber in satiety, glucose, and insulin: studies with fruit and fruit juice. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 34(2), 211-217.
- 8. Hulmi, J. J., Lockwood, C. M., & Stout, J. R. (2010). Effect of protein/essential amino acids and resistance training on skeletal muscle hypertrophy: A case for whey protein. Nutrition & metabolism, 7(1), 51.
- 9. Zemel, M. B., Thompson, W., Milstead, A., Morris, K., & Campbell, P. (2004). Calcium and dairy acceleration of weight and fat loss during energy restriction in obese adults. Obesity, 12(4), 582-590.
- 10. Del Bo, C., Riso, P., Campolo, J., Møller, P., Loft, S., Klimis-Zacas, D., … & Porrini, M. (2013). A single portion of blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum L) improves protection against DNA damage but not vascular function in healthy male volunteers. Nutrition Research, 33(3), 220-227.
- 11. Lashmanova, K. A., Kuzivanova, O. A., & Dymova, O. V. (2012). Northern berries as a source of carotenoids. Acta Biochimica Polonica, 59(1), 133.