Seven Great Complex Carb Sources
While many diets try to eliminate or reduce carbohydrate intake, the truth is that not all carbs are created equal. While simple carbs such as processed sugars and syrups can easily be stored as fat, complex carbs are a vital source of energy for the body, especially for those who lead active lives. Incorporating the right carbohydrate choices into a diet is an essential step on the road to better health. Below are some of the most nutritious sources of these complex carbs:
One of the most common carb sources the world over, brown rice has earned its place as an excellent complex carb. It contains high levels of many nutrients and vitamins, is high in fiber, and can help reduce LDL cholesterol levels. Brown rice has also been linked to lower risk of many chronic illnesses, including type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Beans come in a dizzying variety of sizes and flavors, but all of them are a great option for adding healthier carbs to any diet. High in fiber and protein, beans are one of the most inexpensive complex carbs, and they can be incorporated into virtually any meal.
A unique, gluten-free grain, quinoa is a complex carb with the added benefit of being a complete protein source, as well. Like brown rice, quinoa contains a variety of useful vitamins and minerals, including essential amino acids. The high protein content in quinoa compared to most other carbohydrate sources makes it an ideal choice for vegetarians or those that lead an active lifestyle.
While fruits are technically a simple rather than complex carbohydrate, they earn an exception to the rule due to their many health benefits, as well as the fact that their sugars are naturally-occurring rather than processed. Fruits with lower glycemic content, such as grapefruits, oranges, apples, plums, prunes, apricots, and pears, are generally preferable, but all fruit contains an array of vitamins and nutrients. Berries, in particular, contain relatively high amounts of antioxidants, which help eliminate harmful free radicals.
Sweet potatoes and yams are both nutritious alternatives to traditional potatoes. They contain high levels of many vitamins, as well as fiber, iron, potassium, and the antioxidant beta-carotene. Regular consumption of sweet potatoes has been associated with decreased risk of diabetes, asthma, and inflammatory diseases.
Oatmeal makes a wonderful option for breakfast carbohydrate intake. The vitamins and minerals it contains are known to help reduce the risk of stroke, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Its high fiber content also helps slow digestion and improves nutrient absorption.
Leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale, collard greens, mustard greens, cabbage, and broccoli are some of the healthiest possible carbohydrate options. They contain many vitamins and minerals that are otherwise difficult to obtain, such as calcium, vitamin K, folic acid and beta-carotene. Leafy greens are an inexpensive, low-calorie option that can and should be incorporated into most meals. Consuming high amounts of leafy greens – and vegetables in general – has been shown to reduce the risk of virtually every major chronic illness.
While there are many sources of carbohydrates in the world, it is important to choose the right ones for your health and dietary objectives. These complex carbs can be tailored to fit almost any goal, and incorporating them into any diet is a great way to add variety and ensure that you receive plenty of the nutrients necessary to lead a longer, healthier life.