High carbohydrate foods are foods that contain a higher than average amount of carbohydrates, which are the primary source of energy for humans. Carbohydrates, which are often simply referred to as "carbs," can be broken down into three major groups. The groups are complex carbohydrates, simple carbohydrates, and dietary fibers. Complex carbohydrates are also often referred to as "starches."
Simple carbohydrates are most commonly found in fruits, sugar, and dairy products. Complex carbohydrates come from cereals, grains, and foods made from these sorts of sources. Dietary fiber can come from foods in both the simple carbohydrate category, such as fruits, and from the complex carbohydrate category, such as grains.
Many people try to stay away from high carb foods because these kinds of foods, especially those that contain high quantities of complex carbohydrates, can also be high in calories. A healthy diet, however, should include some high carb foods simply because of their health benefits. Dietary fiber, for example, can be important for colon health. Also, high carb foods, especially grains, can help to lower blood cholesterol and stabilize blood sugar levels. There is also evidence that an inadequate level of carbohydrates in one's diet can lead to problems that affect the central nervous system.
High carb foods that are rich in complex carbohydrates include oatmeal, bran, barley, maize, buckwheat, cornmeal, and pasta of all varieties. Other foods that are also high in complex carbohydrates are potatoes, brown rice, shredded wheat, muesli, cereals made with whole grains, lentils, corn, yams, beans, and peas. High carb foods that are rich in simple carbohydrates include sugar, simple syrup, candies, pastries and cakes, cookies, fruit juice, and many cereals that are made without whole grains.
Sometimes high carb foods are broken down into categories of "good carbs" and "bad carbs." The foods that fall into the good category are the ones in the complex carbohydrate category. The goods that fall into the bad category are the ones that fall into the simple carbohydrate category.
People who are trying to gain weight or regularly perform very strenuous activities often have to rely on high carb foods. Athletes commonly indulge in meals rich in complex carbohydrates in order to prepare for long workouts or periods of exercise. Sometimes this is called "carb loading". A cross country skiier, for example, preparing for a full day of exercise, might have a breakfast that contained muesli and a bran muffin, both of which are excellent sources of complex carbohydrates.