Foods with Complex Carbohydrates for Diabetics

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Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose, which is released into the bloodstream to provide the body with fuel. Balancing carbohydrates in the presence of diabetes is important for regulating blood sugar levels. Simple carbohydrates, found in sugary foods, may raise blood sugar too quickly, while complex carbohydrates may maintain sugar levels better. Meeting with a dietitian is important for creating a diabetic meal plan that helps balance carbohydrates appropriately for your blood sugar goals.


Starchy vegetables, such as potatoes, corn, lima beans, yams and cassava, provide complex carbohydrates. You can eat starchy vegetables raw, canned or prepared. The complex carbohydrates found in these vegetables may help you feel full longer and should be incorporated into your daily diabetic diet.

Beans and Legumes

Dried peas, beans, lentils and legumes are good sources of complex carbohydrates and fiber. Choices from this group include black beans, kidney beans, black-eyed peas and pinto beans. Consuming complex carbohydrates found in beans and legumes and other foods raises blood sugar slowly instead of causing it to spike all at once.

Whole Grains

Whole grains contain the germ and offer a higher nutritional status than refined grains. Refined grains, which are stripped of the germ, are then enriched with vitamins after processing. Whole grains are complex carbohydrates and also contain bulk fiber. Whole grains include millet, steel-cut oats, whole-grain brown rice, whole wheat and quinoa. Foods made from whole grains, such as pasta, bread and crackers, are good whole-grain, complex carbohydrate choices.