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My Top Picks for Healthy Carbs for Weight Loss
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My Top Picks for Healthy Carbs for Weight Loss
Beth Ley Knotts, Ph.D. (Nutritionist)

It is is a myth that carbohydrates are unhealthy. The truth is that some of the world’s healthiest foods are high in carbohydrates. Many make the mistake of eliminating all or most carbohydrate foods in attempts to lose weight (eating "keto", etc.). This, especially in the case of women after age 40, can actually stall weight loss, increase food cravings and hormonal imbalances which further lead to weight gain. A healthy balanced diet includes up to 3 servings daily of healthy carbohydrates.

While low-carb diets, like the increasingly popular keto diet can help some people lose weight, that doesn't mean that eating carbs will make you fat. Or that they'll prevent you from losing weight.

However, not all carbs are created equal. Those that come from refined sugars and flours can spike blood-sugar levels and stall weight loss. However, complex carbs from whole grains and veggies are necessary for good health and a flat belly. What's more, when you don't eat enough carbs (about 225 grams a day), you're apt to feel plain awful.

Without a proper fiber intake, you can experience a whole host of issues, from digestive distress, to a gut imbalance, to constant hunger. And guess what? Carbs are the only natural way to consume fiber.
Here are my top picks for healthy carbohydrates to include in a balanced diet.


Quinoa
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.

It does not contain any gluten, making it a popular alternative to wheat for those eating gluten-free. Quinoa is also very filling since it is relatively high in fiber and protein. For this reason, it may aid in weight loss.


Oats
Oats may be the healthiest whole grain food on the planet.They are a great source of many vitamins, minerals and free radical fighting 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. Research suggests that oats (and beta glucan) may reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol levels. Eating oats may also lower blood sugar levels, especially in people with type 2 diabetes.

Oats are also a relatively good source of protein, containing more than most grains. Amaranth is another healthy high protein grain worth checking out.


Sweet Potatoes
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.


Beets
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.
Beet juice is also very high in inorganic nitrates and is often used to enhance physical performance during endurance exercises.


Blueberries
Blueberries are incredibly delicious and versatile.

They are high in 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 protect your body from oxidative damage. They may also improve memory in older adults

10 Proven Health Benefits of Blueberries

Blueberries are highly nutritious and among the world's most powerful sources of antioxidants.


Grapefruit
Grapefruit is a citrus fruit with a sweet, bitter and sour flavor. It contains only about 9% carbs and has high amounts of several vitamins, minerals and plant compounds.

Eating grapefruit can aid weight loss and reduce insulin resistance. Furthermore, eating grapefruit may help prevent kidney stones, lower cholesterol levels and protect against colon cancer.


Apples
Apples are a popular fruit in many varieties with a sweet flavor and a distinctive crunchy texture.

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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


Kidney Beans (and other beans)
Kidney beans are a variety of the common bean. They are legumes.

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


Chickpeas (lentils and other legumes)
Also known as garbanzo beans, chickpeas are part of the legume family. They are commonly used to make hummus, however, other light colored beans can be used such as lima or butter beans.

Cooked chickpeas contain 27.4% carbs, 8% of which are fiber. They are also a good source of protein. Chickpeas contain many vitamins and minerals, including iron, phosphorus and B-vitamins. Chick peas are linked to improved heart and digestive health. They may also help prevent cancer .


Butternut Squash (and other types of squash)
Butternut squash is sometimes referred to as a starchy vegetable, just like potatoes, because it contains higher amounts of carbs than, say, broccoli or cauliflower. One cup of cubed butter squash has 16 grams of carbs, while the same serving of chopped broccoli has 6 grams.

Butternut and other winter squashes are a good source of potassium and fiber. What's more, some types are packed with beta- and alpha-carotene, antioxidants thought to help prevent heart disease and certain types of cancer.


Cherries
Cherries are a delicious, phytonutrient-rich snack. But the true cherry bomb is the tart cherry—not the sort you're used to seeing each summer in bunches at the supermarket. In most of the country you'll find them dried, frozen, or canned. But they're worth seeking out because they are a true superpower fruit. A study at the University of Michigan found that rats fed tart cherries showed a 9 percent belly fat reduction over rats fed a standard diet. Moreover, researchers noted that the cherries alter the expression of fat genes!


Almonds
Almonds are a nutritious, balanced food that can be used in cooking or eaten as is. Almonds can be purchased, salted, unsalted, raw, or roasted. They can be turned into almond butter, made into almond milk, or ground as almond meal. Raw and roasted almonds are sodium-free, which is important for those people who have a history of hypertension or are looking to lower their sodium intake for other reasons.
Almonds are high in calories due to the healthy fat content so one should pay attention to portion size.

The following nutrition information is for 1 ounce (28g) or about 24 whole unsalted almonds.
  • Calories: 164
  • Fat: 14.2g
  • Sodium: 0mg
  • Carbohydrates: 6.1g
  • Fiber: 3.5g
  • Sugars: 1.2g
  • Protein: 6g