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The Healthiest Carbs to Add to Your Grocery List Now

By Caroline L. Young, M.S., R.D., L.D., R.Y.T. of Good Housekeeping | Slide 1 of 12: These days, carbohydrates (carbs) are the most misunderstood macronutrient of the three. In the current era of the ketogenic diet, carbs are misconceived as the macronutrient you should avoid at all costs. But really, they are what your body and brain need the most to function at their best. In fact, the USDA/DHHS Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025 recommends that we consume 65% of our total energy for the day in the form of carbs. “There's an automatic negative perception around carbs, just as there is an automatic positive association with protein,” says Rachael Hartley, R.D., registered dietitian and author of Gentle Nutrition. “Because of this perception, many people think that eating healthy means limiting carbohydrates, when in reality, carbs are the body's preferred source of fuel, and a valuable source of vitamins, minerals and fiber.” Editor's note: Weight loss, health and body image are complex subjects — before deciding to go on a diet or change your eating habits, we invite you to gain a broader perspective by reading our exploration into the hazards of diet culture.Scientifically-speaking, carbs are sugar molecules that get broken down into glucose or blood sugar to provide energy to cells, tissues and organs. Sources of carbs are grains, starchy vegetables, dairy and fruit. Generally, there are two types of carbs – complex carbs (found in foods like whole grains and starchy veggies) and simple (found in refined white grains and fruit). All carbs, including the less nutritious ones, offer energy and nutrients, and can fit into a balanced intake. “All foods serve a purpose, and even 'unhealthy' carbohydrate foods can provide benefits, and even be the healthier choice in certain situations," says Harley. When putting together this list of carb examples, however, we looked for nutrient-dense carbohydrates, specifically complex carbs, which offer more fiber than simple ones, and have naturally occurring sugar that will help keep your energy up.

These days, carbohydrates (carbs) are the most misunderstood macronutrient of the three. In the current era of the ketogenic diet, carbs are misconceived as the macronutrient you should avoid at all costs. But really, they are what your body and brain need the most to function at their best. In fact, the USDA/DHHS Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025 recommends that we consume 65% of our total energy for the day in the form of carbs.

“There's an automatic negative perception around carbs, just as there is an automatic positive association with protein,” says Rachael Hartley, R.D., registered dietitian and author of Gentle Nutrition. “Because of this perception, many people think that eating healthy means limiting carbohydrates, when in reality, carbs are the body's preferred source of fuel, and a valuable source of vitamins, minerals and fiber.”

Editor's note: Weight loss, health and body image are complex subjects — before deciding to go on a diet or change your eating habits, we invite you to gain a broader perspective by reading our exploration into the hazards of diet culture.

Scientifically-speaking, carbs are sugar molecules that get broken down into glucose or blood sugar to provide energy to cells, tissues and organs. Sources of carbs are grains, starchy vegetables, dairy and fruit. Generally, there are two types of carbs – complex carbs (found in foods like whole grains and starchy veggies) and simple (found in refined white grains and fruit). All carbs, including the less nutritious ones, offer energy and nutrients, and can fit into a balanced intake. “All foods serve a purpose, and even 'unhealthy' carbohydrate foods can provide benefits, and even be the healthier choice in certain situations," says Harley.

When putting together this list of carb examples, however, we looked for nutrient-dense carbohydrates, specifically complex carbs, which offer more fiber than simple ones, and have naturally occurring sugar that will help keep your energy up.

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