Complex Carbohydrates Food List

Complex Carbohydrates Food List

Carbohydrates are an essential element of a healthy diet, but they’ve acquired a bad reputation in recent years due to the popularity of carb-restrictive diets like Atkins and keto.

So you shouldn’t take them off your plate.

In fact, the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) Dietary Guidelines for 2020-2025 recommend that carbohydrates account for nearly half of our daily calorie intake. 

The more nutrient-dense meals we eat, the simpler it is to feel satisfied — and crave fewer of the less-nutritious carbohydrates that sneak their way into our daily lives.

Carbs can help you lose weight, but only if you consume the right ones. When we say the right ones, we are talking about complex carbs.

Limiting your consumption of simple carbs and fuelling your body with complex carbs is the key to optimizing your weight-loss strategy.

Complex carbs, also known as starches, are long chains of sugar molecules that your body breaks down for energy.

Because they take longer for your body to break down, these carbs keep you fuller for longer. Let’s look at some of the foods that contain complex carbs.

Complex Carb Foods You Can Take

Let’s look at some examples of complex carbs and see what’s good and bad. A complex carb diet list comprises nutritious meals that give long-lasting energy instead of sugar spikes. 

Fruits 

Complex Carbohydrates Food List

Complex Carbohydrates Food List

Despite the fact that certain fruits contain a lot of natural sugar, they’re still a better alternative to some of our preferred simple carb-filled treats.

Here are some examples of fruits that are high in complex carbohydrates:

Apples

Bananas

Grapefruit

Pears

Strawberries

Legumes and Seeds

Complex Carbohydrates Food List

Complex Carbohydrates Food List

These foods are typically labeled as “high carb.” Some examples of legumes and seeds that are low in sugar and offer energy include:

Chickpeas

Green beans

Kidney beans

Lentils

Pinto beans

Pumpkin seeds

Soybeans

Split peas

Vegetables

Complex Carbohydrates Food List

Complex Carbohydrates Food List

Like fruits, some vegetables contain complex carbs. Some of these vegetables include:

Asparagus

Beans

Broccoli

Carrots

Cucumbers

Dill pickles

Okra

Onions

Potatoes

Prunes

Spinach

Tomatoes

Radishes

Yams

Zucchini

Whole Grains

Complex Carbohydrates Food List

Complex Carbohydrates Food List

Whole grains are nutrient-dense complex carbs that are both satisfying and nutritious. The following are some of the healthiest choices:

Barley

Brown rice

Buckwheat

Corn

Oats

Quinoa

Sorghum

Wheat

Wheat bran

Whole wheat pasta

Complex Carb Foods to Avoid

Complex Carbohydrates Food List

Complex Carbohydrates Food List

It’s advisable to avoid or restrict refined grains and processed foods created with complex carbohydrates.

“Refined” means that the bran and germ, as well as the fiber, good fats, and nutrients present in these foods, have been removed from each grain kernel. 

The starchy endosperm is the only portion of the kernel that’s left. Even though minerals and vitamins are reintroduced into refined grains, they still have less fiber.

Foods made with these refined grains are labeled ‘enriched,’ but there is no alternative for natural grains.

Some of the refined grain foods with complex carbs you should avoid include:

Bagels

Baked goods such as cakes and cookies.

Crackers

Hamburger buns.

Pancakes

Pizza dough.

Rice cakes.

Sandwich bread.

Waffles

White rice and pasta.

Keep in mind that most of the foods listed above also contain a lot of added sugar, making them even less ideal complex carb foods because they can’t regulate blood glucose. 

Adding Complex Carbs to Your Diet

Complex Carbohydrates Food List

Complex Carbohydrates Food List

It might be necessary to make certain dietary modifications in order to get the benefits of consuming more complex carbs. Here are some simple alternatives to consider:

  1. Instead of taking white bread and pasta, switch to whole grain bread and pasta. If the swap is too much initially, mix white and whole grain bread or pasta.
  2. Other substitutes for white pasta are pasta squash and zucchini noodles.
  3. Instead of munching on potato chips, try pumpkin seeds or raw veggies.
  4. Instead of cooking white rice, cook brown rice or quinoa.
  5. Try rolled oats or steel-cut oats instead of instant oats in the morning. Instant oats tend to have added sugar as opposed to rolled or steel-cut oats, which are more natural.

In addition, the Harvard School of Medicine makes the case that a simple-carb diet isn’t necessarily a good idea.

With a reduction in carbs, you need to replace your calorie intake in some other way, and simple carbs aren’t the answer. 

Benefits of Complex Carbs

Complex Carbohydrates Food List

Complex Carbohydrates Food List

Gut Health

Complex carbohydrates have high dietary fiber content, which can help to regulate blood glucose levels and insulin responsiveness over time. 

Fiber also helps to avoid constipation and diverticular disease. This is achieved through promoting gut health by promoting a more productive stool.

Heart Health

Vegetarian diets have been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol and regulate blood pressure, which can help prevent heart attacks. Complex carbohydrates are good for your heart. 

Legumes and whole grains help keep the heart healthy by minimizing the risk of contracting cardiovascular and coronary heart disease.

Provide Energy

Complex carbohydrates keep the body nourished for a long time. On the other hand, simple carbs offer a quick way to fill your stomach or relieve a craving, but because they are easily digested, hunger may return sooner.

Slower Digestion

It takes longer to break down complex carbs. Complex carbs contain a high amount of fiber, which bulks up stool and allows it to flow easily through the digestive tract.

This results in reduced bloating and gas, less constipation, and more toxins being eliminated from the body.

Weight Loss

The right carbohydrates can indeed help you lose weight rather than gain it. Eating complex carbs helps your body stay full for a longer time. 

As a result, cravings are reduced, and the urge to snack on unhealthy foods in between meals is also reduced.

Snacking on a complex carbohydrate instead of a simple carbohydrate is a simple approach to keeping track of your weight reduction or maintenance goals.

Final Thought

To sum it all up, complex carbs are the absolute opposite of fattening. Instead, they’re satisfying and deliver essential nutrients to our bodies.

The ability to feel satisfied for extended periods will aid in reducing sugar intake, which may be detrimental to blood sugar levels.

This makes complex carbs a win-win situation for anyone who chooses them over simple carbs.

Printable Complex Carbohydrates Food List (PDF)

Complex Carb Foods You Can TakeComplex Carb Foods to Avoid
FruitsBagels
ApplesBaked goods such as cakes and cookies
BananasCrackers
GrapefruitHamburger buns
PearsPancakes
StrawberriesPizza dough
Legumes and SeedsRice cakes
ChickpeasSandwich bread
Green beansWaffles
Kidney beansWhite rice and pasta
Lentils
Pinto beans
Pumpkin seeds
Soybeans
Split peas
Vegetables
Asparagus
Beans
Broccoli
Carrots
Cucumbers
Dill pickles
Okra
Onions
Potatoes
Prunes
Spinach
Tomatoes
Radishes
Yams
Zucchini
Whole Grains
Barley
Brown rice
Buckwheat
Corn
Oats
Quinoa
Sorghum
Wheat
Wheat bran
Whole wheat pasta

See Also

What are Cheat Meals?

The Galveston Diet

How to Eat Clean?

Is Grapefruit Keto?

The Galveston Diet

Vegetarian Protein Sources

High Protein Foods List 

High Cholesterol Food List