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Natural Sources of Carbohydrates


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By far, the best place to get the carbohydrates that your body needs is from natural sources. While carbohydrate supplements can be valuable for individuals that have severe deficiencies, consuming as many carbohydrates as possible from natural whole food sources is the most healthy approach for the human body.

Provided in this article are good natural sources of carbohydrates that you can enjoy every day. Please use this article as a reference if you are having a difficult time deciding on which foods to eat to get your daily requirement of carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy for the human body. The human body will breakdown carbohydrates before any other nutrient type to utilize as energy to fuel the body so that it can perform the various processes required to sustain life. Consuming enough carbohydrates is important as your body will turn to protein if it depletes it's sources of carbohydrates.

Individuals should consume a diet that consists of around 3.6 grams of carbohydrates for each pound of body weight every day. This requirement makes up the majority of your caloric intake.

Some important things to keep in mind:

  • Always choose natural, fresh products with little or no preservatives/unnatural additives over canned or processed products.

  • Try to select products that contain no added sugar and do not list high fructose corn syrup as one of the first 5 ingredients.

  • Cooking fruits and vegetables may cause nutrients to be removed. Eat raw if you can.

  • Canning beans, vegetables, etc. may cause nutrients to be removed. Eat fresh if you can.

  • Try choosing snack foods that are as low in sodium as possible.

  • Avoid putting too much butter on your popcorn to avoid excess fat and cholesterol.


Natural Sources of Carbohydrates
Food Item Serving Size # of Carbohydrates

Apple Juice
1 cup 29 carbohydrates

Apples
1 medium 32 carbohydrates

Applesauce
1/2 cup 14 carbohydrates

Bagel, white
1 large 48 carbohydrates

Bagel, whole wheat
1 large 56 carbohydrates

Bananas
1 medium 28 carbohydrates

Beans, black
1/2 cup 22 carbohydrates

Beans, garbanzo
1/2 cup 22 carbohydrates

Beans, green
1/2 cup 4 carbohydrates

Beans, pinto
1/2 cup 22 carbohydrates

Bread, white
1 slice 12 carbohydrates

Bread, whole wheat
1 slice 13 carbohydrates

Cantaloupe
1 wedge 6 carbohydrates

Carrots
1/2 cup 8 carbohydrates

Cereal, Corn Flakes
1 cup 24 carbohydrates

Cereal, oatmeal
1 cup 25 carbohydrates

Cereal, Raisin Bran
1 cup 46 carbohydrates

Corn
1/2 cup 16 carbohydrates

Crackers
8 crackers 17 carbohydrates

Crackers, whole wheat
8 crackers 27 carbohydrates

Frozen yogurt
1 cup 37 carbohydrates

Grape juice
1 cup 25 carbohydrates

Grapes
1 cup 28 carbohydrates

Green peas
1/2 cup 11 carbohydrates

Milk, chocolate, low-fat
1 cup 26 carbohydrates

Milk, skim
1 cup 12 carbohydrates

Orange juice
1 cup 24 carbohydrates

Oranges
1 medium 16 carbohydrates

Pasta, white
1 cup, cooked 40 carbohydrates

Pasta, whole wheat
1 cup, cooked 37 carbohydrates

Pears
1 medium 25 carbohydrates

Pineapple
1/2 cup 9 carbohydrates

Popcorn
1 cup 19 carbohydrates

Potatoes
1/2 cup 26 carbohydrates

Potatoes, sweet
1/2 cup 34 carbohydrates

Pretzels
1 oz 23 carbohydrates

Pudding, low-fat
1/2 cup 34 carbohydrates

Raisins
2 Tbsp. 15 carbohydrates

Rice, brown
1 cup, cooked 45 carbohydrates

Rice, white
1 cup, cooked 44 carbohydrates

Strawberries
1/2 cup 5 carbohydrates

Watermelon
1 slice 21 carbohydrates

Yogurt, low-fat
1 cup 46 carbohydrates

Types of Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates can be divided into two primary groups: simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates (i.e. simple sugars) are comprised one or two sugar molecules (mono- or di- saccharides) and are digested within a short period of time by the human body. For instance, fructose is a simple carbohydrate and is commonly found in a variety of fruit juices. Since fructose is a simple carbohydrate, the energy it provides to the body is short in duration.

Complex carbohydrates are composed of more than two sugar molecules (polysaccharides) and are digested fairly slowly by the human body. For example, starches are a more complex carbohydrate (i.e. potatoes, whole grains...). Complex carbohydrates require a longer period of time to be "broken down" and hence, provide long-term fuel for your body and are healthier than simple carbohydrates. For this reason, whenever possible, replacing simple carbohydrates with complex carbohydrates is a healthier dietary approach that also better supports weight loss and weight stabilization.

Carbohydrates are the human body’s preferred source of energy. In fact, the human body stores approximately 400 grams of carbohydrates, in the form of glycogen, in its liver and muscle tissue.

fruits and vegatables

Glycogen is then used to provide the human body with energy. In addition, carbohydrates are the sole source of energy for the brain and for red blood cells. This fact explains why individuals that consume a low carbohydrate diet typically feel tired and have difficulty concentrating and/or performing complex mental tasks.

Carbohydrates are primarily found in plant foods (i.e., fruits, vegetables and grain based products), however, at lower levels, carbohydrates can also be found in dairy products as well. The number of carbohydrates present in a food is measured in grams and 1 gram of carbohydrate = 4 calories.