What You Should Know About High-Carb Fruits And Vegetables

Although some health authors have demonized carbohydrates, there are many healthy sources of carbs out there. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 45% – 65% of our diet should consist of carbs. Plus, natural sugars are not the same as added sugar, which the American Heart Association measures to prevent cardiovascular disease.

If you’re worried about high-carb fruits and vegetables, you’ll want to keep reading. Some have enough fiber to counteract the sugar, while others may spike your blood glucose levels. Learn the ups and downs of these high-carb vegetables and fruits.

Sweet Potatoes Are Similar To White Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a starchy root vegetable that many people count as a carb, not a vegetable. According to the USDA, a medium sweet potato contains 23 grams of carbohydrates and seven grams of sugar. In terms of glycemic index, they’re similar to white potatoes.

Farmers examine their freshly harvested sweet potatoes.
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Bernd Wüstneck/picture alliance via Getty Images

Although sweet potatoes have high carbs, most people eat them in smaller portions than white potatoes. This might be why they aren’t linked to weight gain, according to Harvard Health. Plus, sweet potatoes also provide up to six times your daily recommended vitamin A. Stick to one sweet potato a day to avoid a vitamin A overdose.

Peas Are A Special Kind Of Carbohydrate

One cup of peas has about 21 grams of carbs. But they aren’t just any carbs; they’re complex carbohydrates. Unlike other carbs, complex carbohydrates take time to digest, which avoids blood sugar spikes. One of these notable carbs is fiber.

Peas cook in a pan for a chicken and carrot stew.
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For a 2,000 calorie diet, the Centers for Disease Control recommends 28 grams of fiber. One cup of peas supply 9 grams, about one-third of your daily dose. They also include vitamin A, vitamin K, and vitamin C. Peas are also healthy for their high protein, containing four times the protein of carrots.

Bananas Are Almost All Carbs

While bananas are widely popular, they may not work in a low-carb diet. One medium banana has 27 grams of carbs, which is over 90% of their calories. Although bananas provide plenty of manganese and B vitamins, stick to under three bananas per day.

A customer chooses bananas at a Perekrestok grocery store.
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There’s a myth that eating six bananas in a day will make someone overdose on potassium, but this is only hearsay. In reality, bananas only supply 12% of your daily recommended potassium. Dietitian Catherine Collins says that you’d need 400 bananas to overdose on potassium.

Beets Have As Much Sugar As A Cookie

Some people have worried about beets’ sugar and carb content. One cup of raw beets provides 13 grams of carbs and 12 grams of sugar (the same as some cookies). Even so, studies have not linked beets to high blood pressure or blood sugar. In fact, the opposite is true.

Three beets sit against a pink background.

Because beets are high in fiber, their sugars absorb more slowly, says assistant professor of nutrition and dietetics Dr. Whitney Linsenmeyer. A 2018 scientific review in Biomolecules reports that beetroot juice lowers blood pressure. Beets also have powerful antioxidants that soothe inflammation in the body.

Corn’s Effect On Blood Pressure

One ear of corn is high in both carbs and salt, with 32 grams of carbohydrates and 29 mg of sodium. Most of these carbs come from starch, which can raise your blood sugar in high amounts. But like other vegetables, corn has enough fiber to prevent this from happening.

A woman eats a corn on cob at the Gosport Arts Festival.
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Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

In 2007, a study in the Journal of Medicinal Food suggested that corn may regulate both blood sugar and blood pressure. It provides some protein, vitamin C, magnesium, and potassium as well. However, eating a lot of corn may spike your blood pressure, depending on what you eat it with.

Dates Are Mostly Sugar

While dates are sweet, they’re 75% carbs. Two large dates supply 36 grams of carbs, four of which are fiber. In a 2,000 calorie diet, one date makes up 6% of your daily recommended carbs. Over 89% of a date’s carbs come from sugar since it has a whopping 16 grams per fruit.

People pick dried dates from a bowl.
Pinterest/Al Muntasr
Pinterest/Al Muntasr

However, dates are also a good source of potassium, magnesium, and copper. Their high fiber improves gut health and your stool. According to a study in Neural Regeneration Research, dates’ anti-inflammatory abilities may also remove plaque from the brain.

Pears Are High-Carb But Still Low-Glycemic

As a distant relative of apples, pears are also a high-carb fruit. One medium pear has 28 grams of carbs, six of which are fiber. But with no sodium or fat, pears also manage to be a low-glycemic food that fit into a balanced diet.

Sliced pears are displayed in a blue container.
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GEORGES GOBET/AFP via Getty Images

USA Pears recommends one serving of pears per day for diabetics since pears supply 24% of daily fiber, 12% of vitamin C, and 16% of copper. If you’re worried about sugar intake, remember that one pear has 17 grams of sugar.

Goji Berries Are A High-Carb Superfood

Goji berries have been dubbed a superfood for providing all eight essential amino acids. But few people know that they’re high in carbs, especially when they’re dried: 32 grams of carbs per cup. About 15% of those complex carbs are fiber, so goji berries will be fine if you eat them in limited amounts.

A woman holds a bag of organic dried goji berries in a supermarket.
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BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Because they have so many minerals, you don’t need many goji berries to reap the benefits. One hundred grams of these berries supply 536% of your daily recommended vitamin A, half of your daily vitamin C, and almost half of your daily fiber. Plus, they add a lot of protein.

Honeydew May Spike Blood Sugar

Honeydew is one of the more carb-filled melons at 15-16 grams of carbohydrates per cup. Its carbs consist of sugar and fiber, with no starch. Unlike other fruits, 90% of honeydew’s carbs are “simple carbs,” which convert to fructose. Too much may raise your blood sugar levels temporarily.

A nine-year-old girl eats honeydew on Independence Day.
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Karl Gehring/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Although it may spike your blood sugar, honeydew can regulate your glucose levels over time. The American Diabetes Association recommends honeydew as a medium-glycemic fruit to be enjoyed in moderation. And for a fruit that’s 95% water, honeydew has a surprising amount of minerals such as potassium, calcium, and fiber.

Plantains Are Worse Than Bananas

Plantains, also called “cooking bananas” or “green bananas,” are a cousin to the banana. They’re starchier, more sugary, and higher in carbs: 57 grams of carbs per plantain. Like bananas, plantains carry complex carbs with a small amount of fiber.

An employee arranges plantains in a plastic green basket.

According to the USDA, the nutrition of plantains varies depending on how they’re cooked. Most people cook plantains in oil, which may add up on carbs and fat. All have high potassium, magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin B6. All of these may benefit your immune system and metabolism in moderation.

Limit Mangoes, But Don’t Avoid Them

Mangos are a high-carb fruit, with 50 grams of carbohydrates per fruit. That’s 25 grams per cup of cut mango, but it’s still less than 10% of your daily carbohydrate recommendation. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends eating under two servings of mango per day, between 1.5 and two cups.

Store owner holds up a fresh mango.
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LEON NEAL/AFP via Getty Images

But that’s no reason to avoid mangoes. These tropical fruits supply plenty of fiber, vitamin B6, antioxidants, and over half of your daily recommended vitamin C. During a 2018 study, participants who ate a mango a day experienced less intestinal inflammation and constipation.

Eat Only One Serving Of Pineapple Per Day

An entire pineapple offers 119 grams of carbohydrates, which is about 20 grams per cup. As a tropical fruit, pineapple also contains more sugar than its cousins, with 16 grams per cup. Unlike other fruits, pineapple has a medium glycemic index. Registered Dietitian Megan Ware recommends eating no more than one serving of pineapple per day.

A Palestinian man picks pineapples during a harvest at a farm.
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SAID KHATIB/AFP via Getty Images

At the same time, a cup of pineapples supplies 131% of your daily vitamin C. It’s also a powerful anti-inflammatory, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Its enzyme bromelain may also lower pain and swelling.

A Little Butternut Squash Goes A Long Way

As a starchy vegetable, butternut squash supplies loads of complex carbohydrates. One cup comes out to 16 grams of carbs. But unlike potatoes, butternut squash is low in sugar and provides 457% of your recommended daily vitamin A. It also has the same amount of potassium as a banana.

Cooking Instructor Christine Burns Rudalevige spoons a ricotta cheese and herb mixture over the sliced butternut squash.
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Gordon Chibroski/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

Because of its high carb and vitamin content, a little butternut squash goes a long way. According to a study in Food & Nutrition Research, butternut squash contains powerful antioxidants called carotenoids. These lower inflammation and regulate blood pressure to prevent heart disease.

Blueberries Are Antioxidant Powerhouses

Blueberries are 14.5% carbs, with 21 grams per cup. With their carbs and 15 grams of sugar, blueberries would spike blood sugar if not for their other vitamins. These berries are a superfood with almost 30% of your recommended daily vitamin K, 24% of your vitamin C, and plenty of antioxidants.

A child holds out three blueberries.

Blueberries supply more antioxidants than any other fruit. Research suggests that these antioxidants may reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. In 2010, a study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry indicated that blueberries improve memory in older adults.

Eating Raisins Improves Your Diet Overall

Because they’re so concentrated, raisins have more carbs and sugar per serving than grapes. One small box of raisins has 34 grams of carbs with almost two grams of fiber. Since their sugar is largely fructose, raisins have a low-glycemic index that improves your diet overall.

Raisins in a pile are illuminated.
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Valery SharifulinTASS via Getty Images

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey followed raisin eaters from 2001 to 2012. Those who ate raisins also consumed more fresh fruit and vegetables, which made them 39% less likely to become obese and 54% less likely to develop metabolic syndrome.

Parsnips Help You In Small Doses

With 24 grams of carbohydrates per cup, parsnips are high-carb root vegetables. They have the same amount of sugar as potatoes with almost 6 grams of gut-healthy fiber. Like other starchy vegetables, parsnips supply complex carbs that digest slowly and don’t cause blood sugar spikes.

Maine Spring parsnips are on sale at Rosemont Market.
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John Ewing/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

Parsnips are also rich in folate, vitamin C, and vitamin K. Being made of 80% water gives parsnips health benefits, too. In 2016, a study in Nutrients noted that eating more water-rich foods prevents obesity and helps people achieve weight loss. That said, treat parsnips like you would potatoes or beans and limit your portions to one cup or less.

Raspberries Break Down Starch

On average, raspberries provide between 15 and 17 grams of carbs per cup. Eight of these carbs are fiber, which makes raspberries one of the best fiber sources you can come across. Because of this, raspberries can easily fit into a low-carb diet.

A marketer presents a bowl of raspberries.
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Along with fiber, raspberries contain tannins that help your body break down starch. A 2015 study in the journal Cytotechnology found that these reduced blood pressure in rats, even while on a high-fat diet. And although raspberries have fewer antioxidants than other fruits, they make it up with half of your daily recommended vitamin C.

Apples Are Still Low-Glycemic

Compared to other fruits, apples have a high amount of carbs. One medium apple supplies 25 grams of carbs, but it’s still a low-glycemic food. The reason is apples’ high amount of fiber and vitamin C. In 2014, researchers from Washington State found that apples reduce the risk of stroke and obesity.

A boy eats an apple.
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Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

And although apples supply 19 grams of sugar, there’s no need to fret. Research in the American Journal of Nutrition reveals that natural sugar hardly affects blood sugar levels. Plus, apples’ fiber slows the digestion of sugar and carbs, which helps blood glucose overall.

High-Carb Artichokes Help Cholesterol

In moderation, artichoke doesn’t have too many carbs: only 13 grams per vegetable. But if you increase that amount to one cup, you’ll eat around 26 grams of carbs. But artichokes also provide a lot of protein, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, and vitamin B6. A single artichoke supplies at least 23% of your daily fiber.

A chef puts pepper on a Jewish-style artichoke.
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Garrige Ho/South China Morning Post via Getty Images

Although artichokes can rake up the carbs, they also help your cholesterol. In 2018, a 700-person study showed that artichokes lower the harmful LDL cholesterol and raise beneficial HDL cholesterol. Doing so reduces your chances of heart disease and stroke.

Cherries May Improve Blood Pressure

Cherries have 19 grams of carbs and 13 grams of sugar per cup. Despite this, research indicates that cherries may reduce blood pressure. According to the British Journal of Nutrition, cherries’ nutrients called polyphenols may assuage blood pressure in people with hypertension.

A woman holds and tastes cherries.
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Philippe ROY/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Cherries are also high in potassium, vitamin A, and vitamin C. These vitamins and anti-inflammatories help muscles heal after a workout, according to a 2010 study. However, eating too many cherries could contribute to weight gain. Keep your cherry portions under two cups a day, and you should reap the benefits.