Our body primarily needs carbohydrates as a source of energy. The carbohydrates that are consumed and digestible through diet (fiber cannot be digested) are broken down into glucose by digestive enzymes. Glucose is metabolized in cells and provides energy for mental and physical performance, including the brain and muscle cells. Therefore, carbohydrate-rich foods should be regularly provided to the body. A diet rich in carbohydrates is essential for athletes due to a higher carbohydrate requirement or energy demand.
However, it should be noted that a carbohydrate-rich diet increases calorie intake and can lead to weight gain if there is insufficient exercise. On the other hand, a lack of carbohydrates can lead to fatigue and dizziness.
Choose complex carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are usually divided into different groups - simple carbohydrates (monosaccharides and disaccharides) and complex carbohydrates (oligosaccharides and polysaccharides or complex sugars). Simple carbohydrates are found in higher amounts in fruits and vegetables. The majority of dietary carbohydrates should consist of complex carbohydrates and naturally sugar-containing foods 1.
Polysaccharides, including starch and fiber, are classified as complex carbohydrates. Examples of starchy foods include potatoes, beans, peas, and parsnips. Grains are also high in starch or healthier complex carbohydrates 2. Therefore, whole grain products (with a low sodium content) should not be missing from a healthy diet. They also provide a lot of healthy fiber.
For a list of plant-based foods rich in carbohydrates, click here.
Pseudocereals are rich in complex carbohydrates
Buckwheat (72 g per 100 g), amaranth (65 g), quinoa (64 g), canihua (61.4 g), and chia seeds (42 g) are examples of carbohydrate-rich pseudocereals. They contain high amounts of long-chain carbohydrates such as starch and indigestible fiber (see starchy foods and fiber-rich foods).
Carbohydrates in Cereals
Even whole grains are rich in carbohydrates. The most carbohydrate-rich cereal varieties include brown rice (76 g), rye (76 g), wild rice (75 g), millet (73 g), spelt (70 g) and oats with 66 g. The high fiber content should not be overlooked as well.
You can find further carbohydrate-rich cereal varieties in this table.
Nuts and Seeds as Valuable Sources of Carbohydrates
Not only are they rich in complex carbohydrates, but also in healthy fiber. Recommended sources include flaxseed (29 g), pistachios (28 g), almonds (22 g), hazelnuts (17 g), pecans (14 g), walnuts (14 g) and hemp seeds (9 g). All of these foods are also rich in unsaturated fatty acids (especially Omega-3 and Omega-6).
Here is the table with carbohydrates in nuts.
Legumes as Carbohydrate Bombs
All legumes contain very high amounts of complex carbohydrates. Lentils (63 g), chickpeas (63 g), kidney beans (61 g), white beans (60 g), soybeans (30 g) and peanuts (26 g) are the top sources in this group.
You can see other legumes with carbohydrates here.
Fruits are rich in carbohydrates
Fruits usually contain high amounts of simple carbohydrates such as fructose (see fructose-containing foods). Simple carbohydrates are also referred to as fast carbohydrates because they provide the body with energy quickly. Dried fruits such as apples (94 g), prunes (89 g), bananas (88 g), apricots (83 g), and goji berries (77 g) are extremely rich in carbohydrates. The proportions of fresh fruits such as banana (23 g), figs (19 g), persimmon (19 g), lychees (17 g), sweet cherries (16 g), pear (15 g), mango (15 g), kiwi (15 g), blueberries (14 g), and apple (14 g) are much lower in comparison.
You can find out which fruit varieties are still high in carbohydrates by looking at this table.
Vegetables as a source of carbohydrates
Vegetables generally contain fewer carbohydrates than fruits. Especially roots and tubers such as cassava (38 g), garlic (33 g), yams (28 g), sweet potatoes (20 g), ginger (18 g), and potatoes (17 g) are particularly high in carbohydrates. Other vegetables containing carbohydrates include carrots (10 g), Brussels sprouts (9 g), red cabbage (7 g), broccoli (7 g), kohlrabi (6g), and bell peppers, also with 6 g.
Carbohydrates in mushrooms
Dried mushrooms contain high amounts of carbohydrates. As an example, dried shiitake mushrooms can be mentioned with a proportion of 75 g. Fresh mushrooms such as champignons or chanterelles only contain 3 and 7 g of carbohydrates per 100 g, respectively.
You can find further mushroom varieties with their corresponding amounts of carbohydrates in the table view.