As you pass through the bread aisle, have you ever thought: “Should I eat carbs?” According to many nutritionists and dieticians, “How and what kind of carbs should I eat?” is what you really should be asking—before even stepping foot into the grocery store.   

While refined and processed carbohydrates, like white flour and sugar, are pretty much on every dietary blacklist, there are many carbohydrates that are actually good for us, such as high fiber vegetables and fruits. And in terms of getting health benefits and great taste, there is one particular carbohydrate that seems to upstage all others.

“Carbohydrates are our bodies’ preferred source of energy. We need them,” explains LivingHealthy expert and renowned nutritionist Ashley Koff, RD. Grains are a great source of carbohydrates because not only are they nutrient-rich, but they also have different tastes and textures, adding a lot of versatility to the kitchen. And get this—many grains are gluten-free!

“When making choices about grains, make sure not to mono-eat one particular grain,” Koff suggests. “Use variety. Instead of only eating brown rice, try red and black. Look at the specific nutrients in all of the grains and balance your three meals a day with them.”

It is important to be aware of portions, however. Koff explains that because carbs are a quick source of energy, anything your body doesn’t use gets stored as fat. That’s why you should to stick to one serving of carbs for each meal (two if you are following a plant-based diet).

In terms of navigating your way through the grains, we’ve got you covered. Nutritionist Tori Holthaus, MS, RDN, picks out six of her favorites