Naturopathic Kitchen: Healthy Carbohydrates

A bowl of oatmeal topped with banana slices.

What are Carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates are sugars, starches, and fibers. Usually when people talk about carbohydrates, they are talking about processed foods that are high in sugar and refined grains such as white bread, donuts, pastries, and other foods associated with weight gain, metabolic issues and poor health. Carbohydrates have a bad reputation because many high-carbohydrate foods are low in nutrients, but there are also a lot of very healthy, nutrient-rich carbohydrates that could be a positive addition to your regular diet.

Healthy Carbohydrates

Eat more of these foods to add healthier carbohydrates to your diet.

Oats

In addition to being high in carbohydrates, oats are high in fiber, protein, minerals, and antioxidants. 1 Studies show that a diet containing beta glucans from oats can help to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. 2 3 4 

Quinoa

Quinoa is 70% carbohydrates, and a great source of both protein and fiber, making it both healthy and filling. 5  Because quinoa is a healthy and filling carbohydrate, it may aid in weight management. 6 Quinoa also promotes gut health. 7  Quinoa is a great alternative to wheat for those following a gluten-free diet.

Bananas

Bananas are high in potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin B6. 8 Bananas can help to improve cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of heart disease. This is because their high potassium content causes a decrease in blood pressure. 9 If you are concerned about the high sugar content of bananas, you can always opt to eat them when they are less ripe. The less ripe bananas are, the less sugar they contain. Bananas that are a little less ripe also contain pectin and resistant starch, which help feed beneficial gut bacteria and enhance digestive health.10 11 

How to Add More Healthy Carbohydrates to Your Diet

Make oatmeal with sliced bananas on top for a filling breakfast that is high in healthy carbohydrates. A scoop of protein powder can help balance blood sugar as well.

Rushed in the morning? Make overnight oats with your favorite milk alternative, some fresh slices of banana and a dash of cinnamon on top.

Swap pasta out for quinoa in your favorite pasta salad recipes.

Make baked bananas for an indulgent, good-for-you dessert. Top peeled bananas with a little honey and cinnamon, then bake in the oven until cooked (about 15 minutes). Serve hot with a scoop of your favorite non-dairy frozen dessert.

Add quinoa to your favorite salads to make them more filling.

Add mashed banana instead of eggs or add a generous helping of oats to recipes for baked goods such as cakes, loaves, muffins, cookies and brownies.

Keep frozen bananas on hand to add to your morning smoothie. Blend uncooked oats into your smoothie as well for even more healthy carbohydrates.

Add cooked quinoa to soups and stews.

Make a side salad of quinoa, diced red onion, cilantro, and lime juice. 

 

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