What Are Carbs?

To know how much carbohydrate you eat, you need to be clear about which foods are primarily carbohydrate and which contain enough carbs that they require counting.

Carbohydrate is found in:

  • grains (breads, pasta, cereals)
  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • root crops (potatoes, sweet potatoes, and yams)
  • beer, wine, and some hard liquors
  • desserts and candies
  • most milk products, except cheese
  • -ose foods, like sucrose, fructose, maltose

In a healthy diet, most carbohydrate would come from nutrient-dense foods. Nutrient-dense foods and complex carbs like whole grains, fruits, legumes, vegetables, nonfat or low fat milk, and yogurt contain a high volume of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and protein in proportion to their calorie content. These micro-ingredients allow glucose to be processed correctly and prevent the development of deficiencies that generate “carb craving.” They also tend to be lower on the glycemic index.

Low-nutrient foods like candy and regular sodas contain carbohydrate, but lack the other nutrients your cells require for health. Because they contain simple sugar or refined grains, they are high on the glycemic index and are more likely to cause the blood sugar to spike. They may be eaten in small amounts but nutrient-dense foods like brown rice and broccoli are better for both your health and your blood sugars.