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Carbohydrates are one of the main sources of energy in most diets. Selecting the right sources can aid in weight loss and manage blood sugar, as well as improve overall health. Carbohydrates are made up of sugar, fiber, and starch. Carbs with a greater percentage of fiber and starches than sugar are considered complex carbs.

Complex carbs are rich in the nutrients the body needs. Rather than providing minimal nutrition — like simple carbs — complex carbs provide essential fiber, as well as vitamins and minerals. The majority of your carbohydrate intake should be from complex carbs.

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Quinoa

This grain is gluten-free and contains 20 grams of healthy carbs. It also provides 4 grams of protein and 150 milligrams of potassium in each ½ cup serving. Quinoa is a versatile grain that can be used as a dinner side dish, in salads, and even prepared as a hot cereal.

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Sprouted Grain Bread

Sprouted grain bread is a healthy way to enjoy toast and sandwiches. Sprouted grains make it easy for the body to absorb nutrients, and the fiber will keep you feeling full. Check the label to confirm, but most brands of sprouted grain bread do not have added sugar. They are also lower in sodium than other commercial bread.

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Apples

In addition to providing 25 grams of complex carbs, apples are a good source of fiber and the phytochemicals catechin, quercetin, anthocyanin, and chlorogenic acid. Phytochemicals are the substances that give the fruit its taste, scent, and color. They may also provide benefits to humans, such as reducing inflammation in the body and lowering blood pressure.

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Bananas

Many people shy away from bananas when they are watching their weight. They believe the high level of natural sugar contained in the fruit makes them off-limits. However, the sugar is balanced by fiber, and there are 26 grams of complex carbs in each banana. With only 100 calories per banana, they make a great grab and go snack for busy lifestyles.

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Berries

In addition to being a great source of complex carbs, berries are rich in many vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They are also versatile. You can grab a handful for a quick snack, throw some in your smoothie or warm cereal, or add them to your salad. One cup of berries averages about 21 grams of complex carbohydrates.

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Green Vegetables

Their abundant fiber is only one of the pluses of green vegetables. These foods are also a rich source of many important nutrients, such as folate, calcium, zinc, copper, and vitamins B2, B6, and A. Inexpensive and available year-round, green vegetables are an excellent source of varied health benefits.

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Beans

There are many choices of beans available, and all are a good source of complex carbs and protein. A half-cup provides a solid 20 grams of complex carbs and 7 grams of protein. Different types offer various other nutrients as well. For example, black beans are an excellent source of iron, and red beans are rich in antioxidants.

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Sweet Potatoes

One medium sweet potato packs a serious nutritious punch. In addition to 25 grams of complex carbs, it is an excellent source of vitamin A and fiber. Weighing in at only 100 calories for a medium-sized tuber, adding sweet potato to your plate is an easy way to have a nutrient-dense, diet-friendly meal.

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Brown Rice

Brown rice contains a combination of protein and fiber that helps you feel full longer and offers 26 grams of complex carbs in each serving. Substitute your usual white rice in stir-fries and other meals; the more complex, nutty taste of brown rice is a flavorful addition to everyday meals.

Chicken with quinoa and brown rice salad LauriPatterson / Getty Images
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Oats

Another gluten-free choice, oats provide 27 grams of complex carbs per serving. They also give you 5 grams of protein in a reasonable ½-cup breakfast. The protein and complex carb combination leave you feeling satisfied until lunch. As an added benefit, oats are rich in a source of fiber called beta-glucan, which may lower cholesterol levels.

Oats Glasshouse Images / Getty Images

Disclaimer

This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.