Growing up, I always knew that fruits and vegetables were good for me, but I rarely ate many of them. Being southern, the only fruits and vegetables I ate were corn, peas, white potatoes, and canned peaches. Sad, right? As I entered into my teens and ventured into the dangerous world of extreme diets, I started restricting how many carbs I ate from all foods – including fruits and vegetables. Luckily, my love for plant-based nutrition quickly got me out of that negative mindset, yet I still meet many men and women who actually fear eating a banana, a baked sweet potato, or a ripe, juicy pear when they’re watching carbs or calories.
I understand that even fruits and vegetables contain carbs and sugars, and white potatoes and corn should not make up the staple in one’s diet due to their high glycemic index number and lower fiber content. However, the carbs in fruits and vegetables are nothing to be feared. If anything, they’re something to be appreciated.
When the body goes without carbs for too long, itcauses many metabolic imbalances and can lead to intense cravings, fatigue, anxiety, and more. That doesn’t mean you need to load up on bread and processed carbs, though. By adding more fruits and vegetables into your meals each day, you’ll see a huge improvement in your mind and your body.
Here are some of the best fruits and vegetables to eat for their high quality carbohydrate content.
Rich in potassium, Vitamin B6, manganese, magnesium, Vitamin C, and fiber, bananas can help relieve inflammation, nausea, stomach ulcers, depression, and anxiety. One banana also contains less digestible carbohydrates than one piece of wheat bread. Ripe bananas are usually easier to digest than the starchier yellow ones, but yellow bananas have less of a glycemic impact than ripe. Plus, bananas help improve gut bacteria since they contain large amounts of prebiotics. If you don’t like ripe bananas, don’t just throw them away. Freeze them for smoothies or use them to make these delicious banana recipes that will leave you loving the way this fruit makes you feel. Check out these banana recipes.
Broccoli contains roughly three grams of fiber and three grams of sugar per serving for only 50 calories a cup and three grams of protein, along with large amounts of Vitamin B6 and calcium. Broccoli is best digested when steamed until it’s soft enough to chew without being crisp. You can even add frozen broccoli to a smoothie if you don’t enjoy eating broccoli whole. You’ll never taste it when combined with some fruit and it makes your smoothies especially rich and thick!
Apples are one of the best sources of carbs you can eat since they contain large amounts of pectin (a fiber that keeps you fuller longer), Vitamin C, and potassium. They’re also rich in natural sugars that digest more slowly than those found in processed foods and faux “healthy” foods such as granola bars. Apples can even prevent weight gain, especially in the abdominal area. Check out this article on how to pick the right apples for your recipe.
These delicious, juicy fruits have a high satiety factor. Pears offer a large dose of potassium, Vitamin C, magnesium, and fiber. They can also aid in cleansing the digestive tract and are one of the most alkaline fruits to eat.
5. Leafy Greens
No one should ever deny themselves a serving of leafy greens since these are one of the best sources of carbohydrates to eat (though they’re actually very low in carbohydrates overall). Leafy greens provide balance and satiety to the body. They also help relieve stress and fatigue due to high levels of magnesium and B vitamins. Optimize your diet by including at least three cups of leafy greens such as spinach, chard, kale, romaine, arugula, turnip greens, collards, and mustard greens into your meals. These green monster smoothie recipes are an easy way to do just that!
Carrots are full of fiber and natural sources of glucose that help give you energy and keep you full. Their high Vitamin A (beta-carotene) content is also excellent for your heart and helps your skin stay clear. Try this Whole Wheat Carrot Bread.
7. Sweet Potatoes
Technically a member of the squash family, sweet potatoes are an excellent source of Vitamin C, magnesium, Vitamin B6 and fiber. They’re the perfect alternative to the white potato if you avoid potatoes. They can help you lose weight because they’re low on the glycemic index and actually help prevent sugar cravings. Try these sweet potato recipes.
Figs are one of the best sources of vegan calcium you can eat, along with fiber and natural sources of glucose to fuel your brain and body. Figs are also known as an ancient aphrodisiac and can help improve your mood and sense of well-being. They’re also helpful to women since they help remove harmful estrogens from the body and contain less fructose (fruit sugar that may cause digestive problems) than dates. Dried figs such as Black Mission figs are also one of the best sources of antioxidants and fiber of all dried fruits.
Berries are low on the glycemic index and full of properties that nourish your heart, mind, and body. They also help relieve abdominal bloating due to their high fiber and potassium content. No matter what berry you choose, you’re sure to get a large dose of antioxidants into your diet. Choose from raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, mulberries, acai berries, goji berries, strawberries, camu camu berries, and maqui berries.
All forms of squash such as zucchini, yellow squash, acorn, butternut, kabocha, turban, pumpkin, and other winter squashes are powerful sources of alkalizing nutrients. Their high potassium and water content is excellent for hydrating the body and preventing bloat. They can also help relieve anxiety due to high amounts of magnesium, Vitamin C, and Vitamin B6. You can grill zucchini and yellow squash or steam them if you don’t enjoy them raw. For winter and hard squashes, keep things easy and just bake them whole. To do this, place a whole squash on a baking pan and turn the oven to 375. Bake for 50 minutes, remove, and cut open with a fork to cool. Then you can remove the seeds and ta-da! Fresh squash you can enjoy without a bit of hassle at all.
Other great fruits and veggies with high fiber and or water content to include in your diet are:
- Green Beans
Don’t fear fruits and vegetables. Fill your diet up with them and you’ll notice a huge sense of fullness and satisfaction throughout the entire day, not to mention a more balanced mood and sense of well-being. Check out our recipe section for inspiration and ideas.
What are your favorite fruits and veggies to eat each day?
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Image source: Roasted Chickpea Stuffed Sweet Potato