Examples of foods containing simple carbohydrates are blackberries, cake, carbonated soft drinks, cookies, fruit juice, lemons, melons, pasta, raspberries and candy. Foods that include complex carbohydrates include asparagus, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, celery, lettuce, oatmeal, pinto beans, radishes, split peas, watercress, whole wheat flour and zucchini. Carbohydrates are divided into simple or complex types based on the number of sugars they contain in their chemical makeup.
Simple carbohydrates include monosaccarides, which contain one sugar, and disaccharides, which contain two sugars chemically linked. Simple sugars include lactose, sucrose and maltose. The body breaks them down quickly.
Complex carbohydrates are made up of multiple simple carbohydrates; oligosaccharides contain three to 10 sugars, and polysaccharides contain even more. These carbohydrates are typically rich in fiber, slow to digest and healthier than simple carbohydrates. The greater the amount of fiber in a complex carbohydrate, the healthier it is likely to be. Eating sufficient fiber helps with weight loss and maintenance and is associated with a lower incidence of colon cancer.
The foods highest in carbohydrates are sugars, including sweeteners and syrups; hard and gummy candies; dried fruits; cereals; potato chips; cookies, cakes and other baked desserts; flours; jams, jellies and preserves; bread, bagels and pizza; and potatoes.