Starchy and Non-Starchy Vegetables
You’ve probably heard the terms starchy and non-starchy vegetables? But which vegetables are starchy and which are non-starchy? And what is the difference?
Non-starchy vegetables are those that have very small amounts of carbohydrates (and calories) – such as lettuce and leafy greens, sweet peppers, mushrooms, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, green and yellow beans, Brussel sprouts, etc.
Generally, these types of vegetables can be eaten in large amounts without having a significant effect on blood sugar levels. They are an excellent option to help fill you up – without adding many calories – for those who are trying to manage their weight.
Non-starch vegetables are also loaded with vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants.
Starchy vegetables are those that have higher amounts of carbohydrates – these include potatoes, corn, green peas, parsnips, winter squash (butternut and acorn) and yams.
Carbohydrates provide us with calories (energy). Carbohydrates are made up of three parts – starches (complex carbohydrates), sugars (simple carbohydrates) and fibre.
Starchy vegetables contain the complex form of carbohydrates. This means that they will cause a rise in blood sugar levels, but the effect will be smaller than that of simple sugars.
Starchy vegetables are also loaded with important vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants.
Starchy vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet. There is no reason to avoid them – even if you have diabetes or are trying to lose weight. The key is portion size.
One serving of starchy vegetables is about ½ cup cooked. This provides about the same amount of calories (approximately 80 calories) and carbohydrates (approximately 15 g) as ½ cup cooked pasta or rice, or 1 slice of bread.
If you use the plate method to control portion sizes, fill one quarter of your plate with grains OR starchy vegetables, one quarter with protein, and one half with non-starchy vegetables.
Avoid adding additional sugar, fat and calories to starchy vegetables by preparing them using healthy cooking methods such as boiling, steaming, baking or roasting.