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Whether you suffer from diabetes or simply trying to avoid high carbohydrate foods as part of that trendy new low-carb diet, vegetables provide a healthy alternative to most snack foods. However, before you reach for just any vegetable thinking it’s good for you, you should know that not all veggies are created equal.
What many fail to realize is that some vegetables contain high amounts of starch, or carbohydrates, which can spike your glucose levels at a faster rate than some other foods, which can be dangerous for certain individuals. It may result in you feeling sluggish and lethargic after eating them, and even cause you to overeat but increasing your hunger level.
So what exactly are starchy vegetables, and should you even incorporate them in your diet at all? We have just the answers you’re looking for, so keep on reading.
What Are Starchy Vegetables?
High starch vegetables are defined as vegetables that contain high amounts of carbohydrates, which generally also translates to high calories, as compared to other vegetables, such as celery, broccoli, cauliflower, artichokes, asparagus, brussels sprouts, cabbage, eggplant, tomato, and more, which are low in starch.
A Complete List of Starchy Vegetables
- Sweet potatoes
- Green peas
- Acorn squash
- Butternut squash
Other Starchy Foods
High starch vegetables are not the only foods that contain high levels of starch and should, therefore, be avoided as part of a diabetic or low carbohydrate diet. In fact, there are many other foods and grains that we consume as part of our everyday eating habits that are also high in starch.
For instance, many traditional foods are derived from processed white flour, also known as refined grains, such as bread, pasta, rice, and more, which means they are stripped of the germ, brand, nutrients, and fiber, so they are nothing more than empty calories. As a result, they are higher in starch and tend to spike glucose levels higher and faster than their lower starch counterparts.
On the other hand, whole grains are also considered high starch foods; however, whole grains still contain the germ, brand, nutrients, and fiber that the body needs to function properly, so they have a healthier effect on the body.
Some other foods that are high in starch include:
- Bread, whole grains and refined grains
- Pasta, refined grains, and whole grains
Starchy Vs. Non-Starchy Vegetables
While vegetables that contain less starch are good for adding volume and nutrients to your diet without the added carbohydrates and calories, high starch vegetables can be used to provide immediate energy. However, high starch vegetables can also cause weight gain.
In a research conducted by Harvard University, it was discovered that people who increased their intake of low starch vegetables over the course of the study reported losing weight, while those who increased their intake of high starch vegetables, including peas, corn, and potatoes, even the non-fried versions, reported packing on extra pounds as a result.
What They Have In Common
Though some vegetables contain more starch than other vegetables, they are still high in essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin K, magnesium, potassium, folate, and antioxidants, like low starch vegetables, which helps protect the cells from free radicals and other toxins, which helps slow the aging process, and has even been shown to help fight against cancer, and diabetes.
Both high starch and non-starchy vegetables are also high in fiber, which helps promote good digestive health as well as regular bowel movements, which helps to maintain your weight. Fiber also helps lower your risk of developing heart disease because it helps decrease bad cholesterol. It also helps decrease blood sugar levels and inflammation, which also helps prevent the onset of many other bodily diseases.
Where They Are Different
The greatest difference between high starch and non-starchy vegetables is their high starch content, which makes them higher in carbohydrates and calories. Carbohydrates are made up of a number of sugar molecules, which when eaten in excess, can cause your glucose levels to rise and lead to type 2 diabetes.
As a matter of fact, low starch vegetables, whether raw or cooked, contain just 5 grams of carbohydrates and 25 calories per serving as compared to some starchy vegetables that can contain up to 15 grams of carbohydrates or more and 80 calories when cooked.
Starchy Vegetables To Avoid (Or Limit)
The American Diabetes Association suggests that starchy vegetables avoid in high amounts or frequently as part of a diabetic or low carbohydrate diet include those that contain more than 5 grams of carbohydrates per 100 grams of weight. As a general rule, any vegetable with a starch content higher than this is considered especially high in carbs and calories; therefore, they should be limited or consumed only in moderation by certain individuals.
Some other starchy vegetables to avoid include fried, starchy vegetables, which can contain trans fat that is not good for the heart and can cause you to gain weight.