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Nutrients Found in Foods With Complex Carbohydrates

By Eliza Martinez

Complex carbohydrates have more than three sugars and digest more slowly than simple carbohydrates. Foods that are considered complex carbohydrates are generally higher in nutrients than simple carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are your body's main source of energy, and restricting your intake may leave you feeling sluggish and tired. Most foods that are complex carbohydrates are healthy additions to a well-balanced diet.


Whole grains are considered complex carbohydrates, most of which are also good sources of fiber. Getting enough fiber is important for appetite control because fiber digests slowly, keeping your hunger satisfied. Fiber is also involved with regulating a healthy blood sugar and cholesterol level. It also helps regulate normal and efficient bowel and digestive function. Complex carbohydrates with a good dose of fiber include oatmeal, fruits, vegetables, beans, brown rice, whole-wheat bread and pasta, whole-grain cereal, seeds, and barley.

B Vitamins

B vitamins are important for garnering energy from the foods you eat, and because complex carbohydrates offer energy, many choices also contain B vitamins. An adequate intake of B vitamins also supports nervous system function and the production of red blood cells. Good options include wheat, oats, beans and peas.


Iron is found in several complex-carbohydrate foods, and a deficiency in this nutrient may result in anemia, which produces symptoms that include weakness and fatigue. Your body uses iron to transport oxygen through your blood for delivery to various organs that rely on it for efficient operation. It is also involved with cell production and immunity. Complex-carbohydrate foods that are good choices of iron include fortified cereal, oatmeal, beans and whole-wheat bread. Combining iron-rich foods with those that contain vitamin C enhances the amount of iron your body is able to absorb. For example, eating a bowl of oatmeal with an orange increases the amount of iron available for your body to use when compared to eating just the oatmeal.

Vitamins A and C

Many types of fruit and starchy vegetables are good sources of complex carbohydrates and vitamins A and C. Getting adequate amounts of both vitamins is associated with a healthy immune system, promotes wound healing, supports the health of your teeth and gums, and plays a role in reproduction and vision. In addition, both nutrients are antioxidants, which are plant compounds that prevent cell damage that occurs when you are exposed to environmental toxins, damage that contributes to health problems such as cancer. Incorporating a variety of fruits and vegetables is the best way to ensure that you are getting enough of many nutrients, including vitamins A and C.

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