Carbohydrates provide fuel for your body and your brain, and they should make up about 45 to 65 percent of your diet. Some types of carbohydrates are better for you than others, however, just as some sources of carbohydrates are more nutritious than others. Fruits and vegetables are among the more nutritious ways to get your daily dose of carbohydrates.
Fructose, Glucose and Sucrose
Fruits and vegetables contain sugars, also called simple carbohydrates. The most common types found in these foods include fructose, glucose and sucrose, which is a combination of fructose and glucose. For example, a medium apple has 10.7 grams of fructose, 4.4 grams of glucose and 3.8 grams of sucrose. Both starchy vegetables, such as potatoes, and nonstarchy vegetables, such as broccoli, also usually contain these three sugars, but in smaller amounts than those found in fruits. While you should limit your intake of sugars from sweets and processed foods, you don't need to worry as much about sugars from fruits and vegetables, as these come along with other essential nutrients.
Soluble and Insoluble Fiber
Dietary fiber helps you maintain a healthy weight and keep your blood sugar levels more regular, as well as limiting your risk for cancer, high cholesterol, heart disease and digestive issues like constipation. Fruits and vegetables tend to be good sources of fiber and usually contain a mix of the two types of fiber - soluble and insoluble - which each play different roles in the body. Navy beans, kidney beans, black beans, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, sweet potatoes, turnips, apricots, mangoes and oranges are among the better fruit and vegetable sources for soluble fiber, and peas, sweet potatoes, turnips, kale, apples, raspberries and pears contain relatively high amounts of insoluble fiber.
Fruits and nonstarchy vegetables usually only have small amounts of starch, if any. Those with significant amounts of starch include plantains, potatoes, corn, green peas, parsnips, pumpkin and other winter squashes. Broccoli doesn't contain any starch, and a medium apple only has 0.09 gram, but a medium baked potato with the skin has 26 grams.
Most of your carbs should come from carbohydrates, especially complex carbohydrates, which include starches and fiber, and natural sugars, such as those in fruits and vegetables, according to MedlinePlus. Choose fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains, and eat refined grains, processed foods and sweets only occasionally.
- MedlinePlus: Carbohydrates
- University of Arizona: Dietary Fiber
- Harvard University of Health Services: Fiber Content of Foods in Common Portions
- American Diabetes Association: Grains and Starchy Vegetables
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Apples, Raw, With Skin
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Potatoes, Red, Flesh and Skin, Baked
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Broccoli, Cooked, Boiled, Drained, Without Salt
- Colorado State University Extension: Sugar and Sweeteners