What Are Considered Good Carbs?

By Veronica Romualdez
fruit and vegetables image by photo25th from Fotolia.com

Good carbohydrates are unprocessed foods that include fruits and vegetables, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds and whole-grain cereal foods such as whole-grain breads and pastas. These carbohydrates are an important part of a healthy diet as they deliver essential vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytonutrients to your body. Many good carbs are high in fiber, have a low glycemic index, are high in nutrients and have a lower concentration of calories.

Vegetables

Try to include more green vegetables in your diet such as broccoli, lettuce, spinach and turnip greens. Some of the other vegetables include squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, artichokes, asparagus, bean sprouts, cabbage, zucchini, tomatoes and cauliflower. Also considered part of the vegetable group is 100% vegetable juice. Eat vegetables either raw or lightly steamed to obtain the highest nutrient content.

Fruits

Try to incorporate fresh fruits such as raspberries, bananas, oranges, apples, pears, papayas, pineapples, plums, grapefruits, kiwis and strawberries or 100% fruit juice in your diet. Whole fruits such as these are low on the glycemic index and are high in nutrients. Best of all, fruits don't have to be cooked, so they're ideal to take along as a snack.

Beans and Legumes

Beans and legumes are some of the best good carbs because of their high fiber content. A cup of lentils has 15.6g of fiber, a cup of black beans has 15g of fiber and Lima beans will give you 13g of fiber. All beans and legumes, including kidney beans, green peas, garbanzo beans and pinto beans, are low on the glycemic index.

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds, although high in calories, are full of phytonutrients and antioxidants such as vitamin E and selenium and good fats such as omega-3. They're not only full of protein and fiber but have been known to lower LDL cholesterol as well. You can snack on nuts and seeds such as almonds, pistachio nuts, pecans, hazelnuts and sunflower seed kernels. Although low on the glycemic index, you should consume moderately, about 1 to 2 oz. per day, as not to add too many calories to your diet.

Whole-Grain Foods

Whole-grain foods are made from whole grains and include food such as bran flakes, oat bran muffins, oatmeal and even popcorn. Some of the other whole-grain foods include whole wheat or multi-grain pasta, brown rice and whole-grain couscous. When buying whole-grain foods, look for "100 percent whole-grain" on food labels. Most whole-grain foods are considered to be medium on the glycemic index and all are a good source of vitamins B and E, magnesium, iron and fiber.