Carbs have been blamed for causing the current obesity epidemic.
However, not all carbs are created equal. Processed junk foods high in sugar and refined grains are definitely unhealthy and fattening — while whole, fiber-rich foods are healthy.
Although low-carb diets can be beneficial for some people, you should not necessarily avoid all high-carb foods.
Here is a list of 12 high-carb foods that also happen to be incredibly healthy.
Quinoa is a nutritious seed that has become incredibly popular in the natural health community.
It is classified as a pseudocereal, a seed that is prepared and eaten like a grain.
Cooked quinoa is 21.3% carbs, making it a high-carb food. However, it is also a good source of protein and fiber.
Quinoa is rich in many minerals and plant compounds. It has been linked to health benefits including improved blood sugar control (1, 2).
It does not contain any gluten, making it a popular alternative to wheat for those on a gluten-free diet.
Quinoa is also very filling since it is relatively high in fiber and protein. For this reason, it may aid in weight loss (3, 4).
Summary Quinoa is highly nutritious. It numerous health benefits include improved blood sugar control. Quinoa is also high in protein and fiber, so it may be useful for weight loss.
Oats may be the healthiest whole grain food on the planet.
They are a great source of many vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Raw oats contain 66% carbs, nearly 11% of which is fiber. They are particularly high in a powerful soluble fiber called oat beta-glucan.
Oats are also a relatively good source of protein, containing more than most grains (5).
Research suggests that oats may reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol levels (6, 7, 8, 9).
Eating oats may also lower blood sugar levels, especially in people with type 2 diabetes (10, 11).
Furthermore, oats are very filling and may help you lose weight (12).
Summary Oats contain many beneficial nutrients, including fiber and protein. Oats have been shown to lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
Buckwheat is also a pseudocereal.
Despite the name, buckwheat is not related to wheat and does not contain gluten.
Raw buckwheat contains 71.5% carbs, while cooked buckwheat groats contain about 20% carbs.
Buckwheat is very nutritious, containing both protein and fiber. It also has more minerals and antioxidants than most grains (13, 14, 15).
Additionally, it may be particularly beneficial for heart health and blood sugar control, especially in people with diabetes (16, 17, 18).
Buckwheat is the main ingredient in soba noodles, which are popular in Japan.
Summary Buckwheat is highly nutritious and contains more antioxidants and minerals than most grains. Eating buckwheat may have benefits for heart health and blood sugar control.
Bananas are among the world’s most popular fruits.
They are made up of about 23% carbs, either in the form of starches or sugars.
Unripe, green bananas are higher in starches, which transform into natural sugars as the bananas ripen, turning yellow in the process.
Bananas are high in potassium, vitamin B6 and vitamin C. They also contain several beneficial plant compounds.
Due to their potassium content, bananas may help lower blood pressure and improve heart health (19).
Unripe bananas also contain decent amounts of resistant starch and pectin, both of which support digestive health and feed friendly gut bacteria (20, 21).
Summary Bananas are high in potassium, which may help regulate blood pressure. Unripe bananas also contain resistant starch and pectin, which can improve digestive health.
Sweet potatoes are a delicious, nutritious tuber.
Cooked sweet potatoes contain about 18–21% carbs. This carb content consists of starch, sugar and fiber.
Sweet potatoes are a rich source of provitamin A (from beta-carotene), vitamin C and potassium.
They are very rich in antioxidants and may help reduce oxidative damage, lowering the risk of several diseases (22).
Summary Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of provitamin A (from beta-carotene), as well as several other vitamins and antioxidants.
Beetroots are a purple root vegetable, commonly referred to as beets.
Raw and cooked beets contain about 8–10% carbs, mainly from sugar and fiber.
They are packed with vitamins, minerals, potent antioxidants and plant compounds.
Beets are also high in inorganic nitrates, which transform into nitric oxide in your body. Nitric oxide lowers blood pressure and may decrease the risk of several diseases (23, 24, 25).
Beet juice is also very high in inorganic nitrates and is often used to enhance physical performance during endurance exercises (26, 27, 28, 29).
Summary Beets are loaded with vitamins, minerals and plant compounds. They contain high amounts of inorganic nitrates, which can improve health and boost physical performance.
Oranges are among the world’s most popular fruits.
They are mainly composed of water and contain 11.8% carbs. Oranges are also a good source of fiber.
Oranges are especially rich in vitamin C, potassium and some B vitamins. In addition, they contain citric acid as well as several very potent plant compounds and antioxidants.
Eating oranges may improve heart health and help prevent kidney stones. They may also increase your uptake of iron from food, reducing the risk of anemia (30, 31, 32, 33, 34).
Summary Oranges are a good source of fiber. They also contain high amounts of vitamin C and other healthy plant compounds. Eating oranges may benefit heart health and help prevent anemia.
Blueberries are incredibly delicious.
They are frequently marketed as a superfood due to their high amounts of plant compounds and antioxidants.
They consist mostly of water as well as about 14.5% carbs.
Blueberries also contain high amounts of many vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, vitamin K and manganese.
Studies have shown that blueberries safeguard your body from oxidative damage. They may also improve memory in older adults (35, 36, 37, 38, 39).
Summary Blueberries are phenomenally healthy. They contain many vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, and protect your body from oxidative damage.
Grapefruit is a citrus fruit with a sweet, bitter and sour flavor.
It contains about 9% carbs and has high amounts of several vitamins, minerals and plant compounds.
Eating grapefruit can aid weight loss and reduce insulin resistance (40).
Furthermore, eating grapefruit may help prevent kidney stones, lower cholesterol levels and protect against colon cancer (41, 42, 43).
Summary Grapefruit contains various vitamins, minerals and plant compounds. It may help with weight loss and provide numerous health benefits.
Apples are a popular fruit with a sweet flavor and a distinctive crunchy texture.
They are available in many colors, sizes and flavors, all of which generally contain 13–15% carbs.
Apples boast many vitamins and minerals, but usually only in small amounts.
However, they are a decent source of vitamin C, antioxidants and healthy plant compounds.
Eating apples may benefit health in several ways, such as improving blood sugar control and reducing the risk of heart disease. Apples may also decrease the risk of some types of cancer (44, 45, 46, 47, 48).
Summary Apples contain a decent amount of vitamin C, antioxidants and plant compounds. Eating apples may improve blood sugar control as well as reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers.
Kidney beans are a variety of the common bean. They are part of the legume family.
Cooked kidney beans contain 22.8% carbs in the form of starches and fiber. They are also high in protein.
Kidney beans are rich in many vitamins, minerals and plant compounds. They’re also rich in antioxidants like anthocyanins and isoflavones.
Their numerous health benefits include improved blood sugar control and reduced risk of colon cancer (49, 50, 51, 52).
However, never eat them raw. Raw or improperly cooked kidney beans are toxic (53).
Summary Kidney beans contain many vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Cooked kidney beans are also a good source of protein and are linked to several health benefits.
Also known as garbanzo beans, chickpeas are part of the legume family.
Cooked chickpeas contain 27.4% carbs, 8% of which are fiber. They are also a good source of plant-based protein.
Chickpeas contain many vitamins and minerals, including iron, phosphorus and B-vitamins.
Chickpeas are linked to improved heart and digestive health. They may also help prevent cancer (54, 55).
Summary Chickpeas are an excellent source of plant-based protein and contain many vitamins and minerals. Eating chickpeas has been linked to benefits for heart and digestive health as well as cancer prevention.
It is is a myth that carbs are unhealthy.
The truth is that some of the world’s healthiest foods are high in carbohydrates.
Although they should not be eaten in large amounts if you’re on a low-carb diet, carbs can be important nutrient sources.
While refined carbs may be unhealthy in high amounts, whole food sources of carbs are very healthy.