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The human body needs a certain amount of carbohydrate intake so that it can be broken down into glucose and converted into energy. This energy is the fuel that helps us in physical activity and keeps our organs in proper functioning order. Inadequate consumption of carbohydrates can lead to fatigue, weakness, nausea, muscle pain, and decreased resistance to diseases.

On the flip side, excess carbohydrate intake has also been linked to obesity, heart diseases, and diabetes. This is because the excess glucose that is released from the metabolism of carbohydrates is stored in the body in the form of glycogen.

The glycogen reserves are in turn stored in the liver and muscles in the form of fat. A diet that contains excess of carbohydrate food can tip the sugar balance in the body, leaving an individual exhausted and irritated.

Understanding Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are divided into simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates. The difference lies in the molecular structure and the time needed for the breakdown of these molecules. Simple carbohydrates are made of one or two sugar molecules and are easily digested. They are rapidly absorbed by the blood and converted into glucose. This leads to a spike in the blood glucose levels. Although this is good for instant energy, it can lead to storage of the fats, especially when it is not utilized. Cakes, chocolates, white bread, biscuits, molasses, honey, soft drinks, and maple syrup are some common simple carbohydrate food sources.

As opposed to this, complex carbohydrates are made of a long molecular chain that takes some time to be broken down. Thus, there is regulated release of glucose in the blood, and the fat storage is much less in this case. This is further divided into starchy complex carbohydrates and dietary fibers. Starchy complex carbohydrates present in pasta, potatoes, cereal, and rice should be avoided by people with diabetes, since it is broken down into sugar. Dietary fibers in dry beans, oatmeal, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables are good for the body, as they provide the essential carbohydrates without raising the sugar levels.

Foods High in Carbohydrates

Bread ProductsPortion SizeCarbohydrate (gm)
Bagel1 plain60
Pita Bread1 large30 to 45
Muffin1 whole30
PancakeAverage size 6"30
Hamburger Bun1 regular size25 to 30
Croissant1 medium size25
White Bread1 slice20 to 23
Grains and CerealsPortion SizeCarbohydrate (gm)
Cooked Pasta1 cup45
Cooked Rice1 cup45
Refried BeansHalf cup18 to 20
VegetablePortion SizeCarbohydrate (gm)
Sweet Potatoes, Cooked10 oz. baked60
Baked Potato Wendy10 oz.60
Corn Cob6"30
Squash1 cup10 to 30
Fruits and Dry FruitsPortion SizeCarbohydrate (gm)
Raisins½ cup45
Dried Apricots¼ cup28
Bananas 1 medium size30
Apples4 to 8 oz.20 to 30
Pears 6 oz. 20
Pineapples1 cup diced20
Dairy ProductsPortion SizeCarbohydrate (gm)
Fruit Yogurt1 serving28
Plain Rice Milk1 cup20
Beans and LentilsPortion SizeCarbohydrate (gm)
Lima Beans ½ cup frozen30
Garbanzo Beans½ cup frozen30
Kidney Beans½ cup25
Lentils½ cup20
Baked ProductsPortion SizeCarbohydrate (gm)
Two Layer Cake4" square80
Apple Crispies½ cup75
Bakery Muffins1 whole70
Brownie1 large70
Fruit Pie 1/8 part of 9"60
Danish 1 large45
Frosted Cupcakes130
Snack FoodsPortion SizeCarbohydrate (gm)
French Fries1 large60
Granola ½ cup 45
Jellied Cranberry Sauce½ cup30
Pudding1 pack30
Sherbet ½ cup30
Sorbet½ cup30
Other FoodsPortion SizeCarbohydrate (gm)
Pizza1 whole75
Lasagna1 serving60 to 70
Beans and Cheese Burrito6 oz. serving45 to 60
Macaroni and Cheese1 cup50
Red Beans and Rice1 cup45
Pot Pie1 cup30
Moderate Carbohydrate Foods

Apart from the foods that are extremely high carbohydrates, there are also some foods with moderate levels of carbohydrates of around fifteen to twenty grams per portion.

Bread
  • Corn Bread
  • Corn Tortillas
  • Waffles
Vegetables
  • Cooked Corn
  • Peas
  • Mashed Potatoes
Dairy Products
  • Cow Milk
  • Yogurt (plain)
  • Plain Soy Milk
Snack Foods
  • Popcorn
  • Potato Chips
  • Saltine Crackers
  • Tortilla Chips
Fruits and Dry Fruits
  • Cantaloupe
  • Grapefruit
  • Grapes
  • Kiwi
  • Orange
  • Prune (dried)
  • Raspberry
  • Strawberry
  • Watermelon
Cereals and Grains
  • Cooked Oatmeal
  • Dry Cornmeal
  • Cream of Wheat
  • Hummus

As you can see, most of the high carbohydrate foods contain simple carbohydrates and should ideally be avoided. This is because, simple carb foods like snacks, baked products, and white bread, whether they contain high or moderate carbs, do nothing for the body other than introduce blank calories. These blank calories only give a short burst of energy for a short period of time, and over-consumption leads to weight gain, tooth decay, and many other health problems. On the other hand, complex carbs release more energy for a longer duration, and have an important role to play in the body's metabolism, digestion, muscular and central nervous system activities. Some high carbohydrate foods like fruits, vegetables, beans, oatmeal, and whole wheat grains provide adequate nutrition along with vitamins, minerals, and fibers, that are essential for physical fitness and overall health. So include as many of these as you can in your daily diet, and follow a regular exercise regime to stay fit and healthy.

Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and does not in any way attempt to replace the advice offered by a medical professional.