Let me just start out by saying that carbs are not the enemy—they're an essential part of a healthy diet and a vital source of protein, fat, and energy. "Carbohydrates are macronutrients, meaning they are one of the three main ways the body obtains energy, or calories," explains Paige Smathers, a Utah-based registered dietitian, to Live Science. "It's best to focus on getting primarily complex carbs in your diet, including whole grains and vegetables."
More specifically, My Body+Soul clarifies that foods such as whole grains, dairy, legumes, sweet potatoes, and fruit are the "type of carbs you want in your diet," writes Melissa Meier, a Sydney, Australia–based registered dietitian. "Not only do these foods contain carbs—they're packed with a range of other nutrients, too." For example, whole grains are a great source of gut-friendly fiber, dairy is rich in calcium, and fruits and veggies are brimming with disease-fighting antioxidants.
In other words, "if you cut out carbs, you're also cutting out these wholesome, nutritious foods, which could be detrimental to your health," she adds. To put things into perspective, Meier outlined a list of healthy, nutrient-dense foods that actually have more carbohydrates than a slice of whole grain bread, which contains roughly 12 grams of carbohydrates. Below, find the most carb-heavy, nutrient-rich foods, as reported by My Body+Soul, Livestrong, and Women's Health.
• 1 apple = 25g carbohydrates
• 1/2 small sweet potato = 19g carbohydrates
• 1 cup canned chickpeas = 23g carbohydrates
• 3/4 cup reduced-fat Greek yogurt = 16g carbohydrates
• 1 medium banana = 27g carbohydrates
• Small box of raisins = 34g carbohydrates
• 1 cup cut mango = 28g carbohydrates
• 1 cup cut pineapple = 22g carbohydrates
• 1 baked potato = 59g carbohydrates
• 1 cup canned beet slices = 39g carbohydrates
• 1 cup canned corn = 35g carbohydrates
• 1 cup acorn squash = 21g carbohydrates
• 1 cup canned green peas = 16g carbohydrates
• 1 cup lima beans = 24g carbohydrates
• 1 cup stewed tomatoes = 13g carbohydrates
The message isn't to avoid these carb-heavy foods, but to recalibrate the way you think about carbs.