A Comprehensive List of High-Carbohydrate Foods

Updated October 15, 2022
Group of Sweet and Salty Snacks

For some folks, controlling carbs is helpful for managing blood sugar levels and maintaining overall health. Eating too many carbohydrates (carbs), including added sugar and refined carbs, can lead to high blood sugar levels and certain chronic diseases.

The American Diabetes Association provides guidelines suggesting that people with diabetes limit carbohydrate intake to 45 to 60 grams per meal, depending on what their doctor or dietitian approves. This list of high carbohydrate foods can be helpful for those who are trying to adhere to those guidelines.

High Carbohydrate Foods List

The following foods are high in carbs. If you're following a low-carb eating plan, eat these foods in moderation or eliminate them from your diet completely.

Sugars and Sweets

This category includes both sugar in its natural forms and foods that contain sugar. Although some foods that contain sugar are less processed than others, they're still considered high-carb options that are low in fiber and nutrients. Don't be fooled by the many ways sugar shows up on a nutrition facts label, even unprocessed cane sugar and raw sugar are still sugar.

The 2020-2025 U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends less than 10% of total daily calories from added sugar, which includes foods in this category.

  • Brown sugar
  • Cake
  • Candy
  • Candy bars
  • Chocolate
  • Cocoa mix
  • Cookies
  • Corn starch
  • Doughnuts
  • Fruit juice
  • Fruit snacks
  • Granola bars
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Ice cream
  • Jellies and jams
  • Molasses
  • Powdered sugar
  • Pudding
  • Regular sodas
  • Sugary drinks
  • Sweet tea
  • Syrups
  • White sugar

Fruits

Although fruits contain nutrients and fiber linked to health benefits, if you're controlling your carb intake, you'll need to take into account carbohydrates from fruits and fruit juice.

  • Apples
  • Applesauce
  • Bananas
  • Blueberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Dates
  • Dried fruit
  • Grapes
  • Honeydew melon
  • Oranges
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Pineapple
  • Raisins
  • Strawberries

Starchy Vegetables

Starchy vegetables are notorious for being high in carbs. These foods also contain plenty of nutrients and fiber.

  • Corn
  • Peas
  • Squash, includes winter squashes such as acorn and butternut
  • Sweet potatoes
  • White potatoes

Legumes

Legumes are a good source of vegetarian protein. Compared to many other carbs, they have a lower glycemic index. The glycemic index is a measure of how quickly your blood sugar rises after eating a food. Still, legumes do add to your carb count, and some low-carb diets suggest limiting them.

  • Baked beans
  • Black beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Kidney beans
  • Lima beans
  • Lentils
  • Navy beans
  • Pinto beans

Dairy Products

You can still enjoy dairy in moderation on a low-carb diet. Check the label for flavored yogurts and yogurt sweetened with fruit as these yogurts sometimes have a lot of added sugar.

  • Low-fat milk
  • Low-fat and fat-free yogurt, any type
  • Regular yogurt and Greek yogurt
  • Whole milk

Whole Grains and Refined Grains

Try to opt for whole grains over refined grains. Although many whole grains are high in carbs, they're are also high in fiber and nutrients including vitamins and minerals.

Here are some high-carb whole grains and refined grains:

  • Amaranth
  • Bagels
  • Barley
  • Breads
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Bulgur
  • Chips
  • Corn flour
  • Couscous
  • Crackers
  • Cream of wheat
  • French toast
  • Millet
  • Muffins
  • Oatmeal
  • Pancakes
  • Pasta
  • Popcorn
  • Pretzels
  • Quinoa
  • Rice cakes
  • Rice flour
  • Rye
  • Spelt
  • Waffles
  • White flour
  • White rice
  • Whole wheat flour

Alcohol

Some alcoholic beverages can contain carbs, such as:

  • Daiquiri
  • Gin and tonic
  • Margarita
  • Mixed drinks that are sweet
  • Mojito
  • Regular beer

Tips to Reduce High-Carbohydrate Foods

Substitute lower-carb foods for high-carb ones and opt for less overall sugar and refined grains. Try these simple ways to lower your carbohydrate counts.

Add Protein, Fats, and Vegetables

Choose low-carb protein foods, healthy fats, and non-starchy vegetables such as:

  • Bell peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggs
  • Lean meats
  • Leafy greens
  • Low-fat cottage cheese
  • Nuts, seeds, and nut butter
  • Onions
  • Reduced fat cheeses
  • Seafood
  • Soy products
  • Tomatoes
  • Un-breaded chicken and fish
  • Vegetable oils

Skip Refined and Sugary Foods

Reduce or avoid sugars, sweets, and refined grains including:

  • Foods on the "sugars and sweets" food list
  • Regular pasta
  • White bread
  • White rice

Focus on Fiber

Replace sugars, sweets, and refined grains with high-fiber carbs. Try some of these options:

  • Fresh fruits
  • Fresh vegetables
  • Legumes
  • Whole grains, whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, and whole-grain cereals

Choose Healthy Carbohydrates for Optimal Nutrition

Your body requires carbs on a daily basis to function properly. In fact, carbs are a fuel source for your body, especially for athletes. Consuming healthy, carbs with fiber and nutrients is your best bet when choosing carbs. Choosing healthy, fiber-rich sources of carbs is linked to reduced risk of chronic diseases including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, breast cancer and colorectal cancer according to a 2019 meta-analysis of 58 clinical trials. Healthier carbohydrates include whole grains, legumes, vegetables, dairy, and fruit.

Although consuming too many carbs can raise blood sugar levels, they contribute certain nutrients to your day. Unless you're following a specific low-carb meal plan or have diabetes or another condition that may require you to limit carbs, they can be a part of a healthy diet. If you're unsure about the carb content of a certain food, the USDA Food Data Central is a helpful resource.

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A Comprehensive List of High-Carbohydrate Foods