Foods high in simple carbohydrates include many crackers, pastries, candies, bread products and potatoes, while foods high in complex carbohydrates include vegetables, whole grain breads and cereals, fruits, yogurt and nuts. The foods in the first group metabolize into sugar quickly, while the second are slower to digest.
Foods high in fructose or granulated sugar are largely empty-calorie items, which tend to cause weight gain and have little nutritional value. Baked potatoes, hash browns and French fries are all high in simple carbohydrates, with hash browns composed of 35 percent carbohydrates. Bananas and apples are high-carbohydrate fruits, with an average apple containing 21 grams of carbohydrates and an average banana containing 24 grams.
Bread and pasta are both high in carbohydrates, with even whole-grain alternatives containing a significant amount. A slice of whole-grain bread, for example, contains 20 grams of carbohydrates.
While carbohydrates are necessary for the proper functioning of the immune system and general human development, excess consumption often leads to diabetes and obesity. Nutritionists recommend that carbohydrates compose 45 to 65 percent of a person's total daily calories, which for the average person ranges from 225 to 325 grams per day. Those who are trying to lose weight often cut back on carbohydrate consumption as part of their weight loss strategy.