Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy, helping to fuel our muscles and make us think straight. Opting for the best nutrient dense carbs is an easy way to ensure your body remains healthy and happy, without depriving it of crucial vitamins and minerals.
Many people opt for low-carb diets, but little do they know that they are actually doing their body more harm than good (that is, if they decide to move at all. If they are sedentary, then your carb needs are lower, and you can get away with more restriction).
However, if you DO like to get out of your bed and walk around, exercise, and go about day-to-day errands, then restricting your carb intake can lead to:
• Decreased thyroid output
• Increased cortisol output
• Decreased testosterone
• Impaired mood and cognitive function
• Muscle catabolism
• Suppressed immune function
The bottom line is, is that carbohydrates are important! If you want to feel awesome, eat plenty of the right carbs. Vegetable and fruit carbs are the best, second best would be foods like bread, rice and pasta.
Here are 10 of the best nutrient-dense carbs you should be eating:
Beets are one of the best nutrient-dense carbs you should be putting in your body. They contain a unique source of phytonutrients called betalains, which provide powerful anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and detoxification support. They are a healthy source of folate, manganese, potassium, copper, magnesium, vitamin C and iron. They contain roughly 13 grams of carbohydrates per 1 cup! Don’t throw away those beet greens, either! They have even more nutrition than the beets themselves.
Similar to beets, carrots contain around 12 grams of carbs per 1 cup serving. They have a higher nutrient density when un-cooked, as some of the vitamins in carrots are water soluble & heat sensitive. Carrots are rich in both alpha- and beta-carotenes (which convert to vitamin A in the body), contain a hefty dose of potassium as well as a variety of anti-aging and disease-fighting phytonutrients.
Who doesn’t LOVE mashed potatoes? Potatoes have been around for centuries, and contain pretty much every nutrient our body requires in one small little potato-ey package. They contain plenty of potassium, magnesium, iron, copper, manganese, as well as B vitamins and vitamin C. They are quite literally the worlds perfect food. One medium potato contains a beautiful 37g serving of carbohydrates! Better yet, potatoes, when cooked and then cooled, are a great source of resistant starch, which helps aid gut bacteria and helps you to lose weight!
There are many potato varieties like sweet potatoes, yams, and even purple potatoes, which contain even higher nutrient density, and overall immune-boosting effects for the body!
1 medium banana provides you with over 27 grams of carbohydrates! I like to consider bananas the “king (or queen) of all fruits,” mainly because they contain tryptophans, which help improve mood, vitamin C for immune support, potassium for ever-lasting energy and manganese for proper bone formation and support. If you haven’t yet heard of the banana diet, I suggest you go check it out! People have lost an incredible amount of weight following this plan, and have re-gained back their life!
Dates are one of my favourite foods, especially when consumed fresh. I can easily eat 10-15 dates in a sitting (crazy, hey? Nah..I eat plenty of carbs and remain thin! Thanks to a high carb, raw vegan, low fat diet!). As much as 70% of their weight comes from pure fruit sugar, with around 4 fruits providing up to 75 grams of carbohydrates! They are rich in fibre, and contain more potassium than bananas, and are loaded with copper, a trace mineral required by the body to absorb and use iron to form red blood cells! My favourite supplier of dates are the wonderful people over at www.7hotdates.com – seriously, the best dates in the world (this is not sponsored in any way, their dates are SO fresh!)
This sweet-flavoured tropical fruit is sure to please anyone! It contains a variety of protective antioxidants and is an excellent source of vitamin A, C, K, and E, and minerals like potassium and magnesium. They help improve digestion due to their powerful enzymes and contain over 50 grams of carbohydrates per large fruit!
Why are peas a great nutrient-dense carb? Well, to start, one cup of peas contains roughly 21 grams of carbohydrates, and provides you with body-essential minerals like iron, zinc, potassium and folate. Green peas also contain a phytonutrient called coumestrol, which has been shown to provide stomach cancer protection. There is also an association with green peas helping to lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, mainly due to their high fibre and protein content, as well as low GI index.
Who doesn’t love broccoli?! Okay – so that might be a bit of an over-statement, but if you aren’t eating broccoli, you should be! Broccoli is high in cancer-fighting sulforaphane, and helps improve the functioning of your digestive tract. There is just too much to say about broccoli, so you can read all about it HERE. Consuming around 1 cup of broccoli will provide you with 7 grams of carbohydrates (and if you’re a vegan, or raw vegan, you will know just how easy it is to eat 2-3 cups of broccoli…or at least for me, anyway).
9. Winter Squash
Winter squashes like acorn, pumpkin, and butternut, are great sources of nutrients and carbohydrates. They are all high in fibre, loaded with beta-carotenes, vitamin C and potassium. Beta-carotenes help reduce the risk of developing certain cancer types, and offer protection against degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. These low calorie, nutrient dense foods are a great source of carbohydrate for working muscles and also help to satisfy your hunger! 1 cup of winter squash provides around 10 grams of carbs!
10. Turnip or Rutabaga
These vegetables are incredibly high in potassium, a mineral (and electrolyte) necessary for bone strength, and activity of enzymes needed for energy metabolism. Rutabagas contain raffinose (as do most cruciferous veggies), a complex sugar that can cause bloating, abdominal pain, and flatulence in some people, so maybe go easy on these guys and incorporate them slowly into your diet. Turnip contains around 8 grams of carbohydrates per cup, whereas rutabaga contains 12 grams of carbohydrates per cup!