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The Benefits and Risks of Eating Starchy Vegetables

Starchy vegetables are a type of vegetable that has a high carbohydrate content due to having lots of starch, which…(continue reading)

Starchy vegetables are a type of vegetable that has a high carbohydrate content due to having lots of starch, which means that they are a good source of energy for the body. They also tend to be low in calories and fat, making them a healthy option for those who are trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy lifestyle. However, you may need to avoid starchy vegetables in your diet due to dietary restrictions or medical problems. In this article, we will provide a list of starchy vegetables and discuss the benefits and risks of eating them.

What is starch?

Starch is a type of carbohydrate that is found in many plants, including starchy vegetables. Starches are long chains of glucose molecules, with glucose being a type of blood sugar. When we eat starchy foods, our body breaks down the starch into glucose and uses it for energy.

There are two types of starch: simple starch and complex starch. Simple starch is found in foods like potatoes and corn and is quickly broken down into glucose and absorbed into your bloodstream. Complex starch, on the other hand, is found in foods like beans and whole grains and takes longer for the body to break down into glucose, if at all.

What makes a vegetable starchy?

The main factor that determines whether a vegetable is starchy or not is the number of carbohydrates it contains. When you eat starch, carbohydrates are converted into glucose, which is then stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen. When we eat starchy vegetables, our bodies convert the starch into glucose and use it for energy similar to plants. In its pure form, starch is a tasteless and odorless white powder and it is also the most common carbohydrate in the human diet.

What are the benefits of starchy vegetables?

There are many benefits of starchy vegetables. Starchy vegetables are an excellent source of energy and nutrients and they also are a source of fiber, which helps to keep you regular and can lower your risk for heart disease and other chronic diseases and conditions. Non-starchy vegetables are usually higher in fiber than starchy vegetables although starchy vegetables are still a good source for it. In addition, starchy vegetables contain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are essential for good health including vitamin C, vitamin B, and potassium.

Are there any adverse effects to eating starchy vegetables?

As with any food, there are always potential risks associated with eating starchy vegetables. For example, if you have diabetes, you need to be careful about the amount of starch you eat because it can raise your blood sugar levels. In addition, some starchy vegetables like potatoes and corn contain high levels of carbohydrates and can cause weight gain if you eat too much of them. As with any vegetable, wash your starchy vegetables before eating or cooking them to minimize your risk of food poisoning. It is important to remember that starchy vegetables are a healthy part of your diet but, like all foods, they need to be eaten in moderation.

What are examples of starchy vegetables?

Examples of starchy vegetables include potatoes, corn, sweet potatoes, peas, and winter squash. These vegetables are all high in carbohydrates and contain a significant amount of starch. There are a variety of vegetables that are considered starchy and they include:

  • Beetroot
  • Cassava
  • Parsnips
  • Wheat
  • Rice
  • Acorn squash
  • Butternut squash
  • Turnips
  • Carrots

What is resistant starch?

Resistant starch is a type of starch that is not broken down by the body and absorbed into your bloodstream like simple starch. Instead, resistant starch passes through the digestive system unchanged and is excreted in the feces. These foods are healthy for your gut bacteria too as they ferment in your large intestine instead of being absorbed into your bloodstream in the small intestine. These foods do not affect your glucose levels because they are not absorbed by your body in the small intestine. Some starchy foods, like beans, peas, and lentils, contain resistant starch.

There are several notable benefits to foods that have resistant starch. First, due to the fact that they don’t raise your blood sugar level, they can be great for you if you have diabetes and need more glycemic control than others. Resistant starch also can help prevent constipation and help lower your cholesterol. Finally, resistant starch is fermented by your gut bacteria, which produces short-chain fatty acids that have been linked to a number of health benefits like a reduced risk of colon cancer.

Is there any other advice to follow regarding starchy vegetables if I am on a diet?

If you are on a diet, it is important to remember that starchy vegetables are high in carbohydrates and can cause weight gain if you eat too much of them so remember to eat them in moderation. Also, if you are trying to lose weight, you may want to choose starchy vegetables that are lower in carbohydrates like broccoli or cauliflower. Finally, if you have diabetes, you need to be careful about the amount of starch you eat because it can raise your blood sugar levels.

Carb counting can be a helpful way to monitor your intake of starchy vegetables if you have diabetes or are on a diet and it involves keeping track of the grams of carbohydrates you eat at each meal and snack. For example, if you eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner with a couple of snacks throughout the day, you would need to add the carbs from those three meals and two snacks together to get your total carb count for the day. If you are not sure how many carbs are in a starchy vegetable, you can ask your doctor or dietitian for help. They can also provide you with more information on how to count carbs and make healthy choices when it comes to starchy vegetables.

Are non-starchy vegetables also good for my diet?

Yes, non-starchy vegetables are a healthy part of your diet and contain important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, just like starchy vegetables. Non-starchy vegetables are usually higher in fiber and lower in carbohydrates, which makes them a good choice for diabetics. High fiber foods also aid in digestion and lowering your cholesterol too. Phytochemicals are also present in non-starchy vegetables which are thought by some to be beneficial for your health although more research is needed. Examples of non-starchy vegetables include:

  • Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Cucumbers
  • Tomatoes
  • Green beans
  • Zucchini
  • Mushrooms
  • Cabbage
  • Asparagus

Summary

Starchy vegetables are a part of your healthy diet but need to be eaten in moderation. If you are on a diet, it is important to remember that starchy vegetables are high in carbohydrates and can cause weight gain if you eat too much of them. As with any vegetable, wash your starchy vegetables before eating or cooking them to minimize your risk of food poisoning. If you have diabetes, you need to be careful about the amount of starch you eat because it can raise your blood glucose levels. But overall, starchy vegetables are a good source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are essential for good health. If you have any more questions regarding starchy vegetables or starch in your diet, please talk to your doctor, dietician, or healthcare provider.

References and Sources:

American Diabetes Association 

The Johns Hopkins Patient Guide to Diabetes 

Fact Checked and Editorial Process

Diabetic.org is devoted to producing expert and accurate articles and information for our readers by hiring experts, journalists, medical professionals, and our growing Diabetic.org community. We encourage you to read more about our content, editing, and fact checking methods here. This was fact checked by Jacqueline Hensler and medically reviewed by Dr. Angel Rivera. 

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