A List of Starchy Vegetables and Tips for Enjoying Them

Learn how to identify and portion control starchy vegetables

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Vegetables are good for you—they provide vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, volume, lots of color, and crunch. There are two different categories of vegetables: starchy vegetables, such as potatoes, corn, and peas, and non-starchy vegetables, such as broccoli, peppers, and kale.

If you have type 2 diabetes, you may have been told to limit starchy vegetables. This is because starchy vegetables contain more carbohydrates than non-starchy vegetables and, therefore, can increase your blood sugars at a quicker rate.

This doesn't make them off limitsrather, you should learn how to identify them and portion control them. You can also weed out which ones you may want to limit by keeping track of how they impact your blood sugars (by testing your blood sugar two hours after a meal) and modify your diet as a result.

List of Starchy Vegetables

The list below is for cooked starchy vegetables. The serving sizes have about 15 grams of carbohydrate, 3 grams of protein, and about 80 calories.

If you are eyeballing servings, 1/2 cup is equal to about the size of your cupped palm. One cup is about the size of your fist.

  • Beets (1 cup)
  • Carrots (1 cup)
  • Corn (1/2 cup or 1 medium cob)
  • Green Peas (1/2 cup)
  • Parsnips (1/2 cup)
  • Plantain (1/2 cup)
  • Pumpkin (1 cup)
  • Sweet Potatoes (1/2 cup)
  • Taro (1/2 cup)
  • White Potatoes (1 small or 1/2 cup mashed, 1/2 cup roasted or 10 to 15 French fries)
  • Winter Squash, such as acorn or butternut squash (~3/4 cup)
  • Yams (1/2 cup)

Why You Need to Watch Your Portion of Starchy Vegetables

Starchy vegetables have higher amounts of carbohydrates, which people with diabetes have difficulty metabolizing. They also have a higher glycemic index, meaning that they raise blood sugars at a faster rate than other food types, such as protein and non-starchy vegetables.

Comparatively, per portion, they are also higher in calories than non-starchy vegetables. This is important to consider if you are trying to lose weight. For example, 1/2 cup of boiled potatoes contains about 70 calories and 15 grams of carbohydrate, whereas, 1/2 cup of steamed broccoli contains 25 calories and 5 grams of carbohydrate.

Therefore, if you are following a consistent carbohydrate diet or a carbohydrate controlled diet, you'll want to watch your portions of starchy vegetables and count them towards your carbohydrate meal allotment.

Keep an Eye on Carbohydrate Counts and Portion Size

A typical serving of a starchy vegetable (which is about 15 grams of carbohydrate) is about 1/2 cup cooked (the size of a computer mouse) or about 1/4 of your plate (a 9-inch plate). Depending on how many carbohydrates you are prescribed per meal, you can manage your portions accordingly. For example, if you are eating roasted corn kernels for dinner and you are supposed to eat 30 grams of carbohydrate per meal, you can have one cup of cooked corn for dinner.

Another good way to manage portions without counting carbohydrates in grams is to practice the plate method. To do so, keep your starchy vegetables to 1/4 your plate and fill 1/2 your plate up with non-starchy vegetables.

The remaining 1/4 of your plate should be dedicated to lean protein—eggs, egg whites, white meat chicken, turkey, pork, fish, lean beef, tofu, etc.

Choose Healthier Versions of Starchy Vegetables

One of the most popular starchy vegetables in the American diet is the potato, and it is usually consumed in the form of French fries or potato chips. These food choices are not the healthiest version of the potato, as they are rich in calories, saturated fat, and sodium.

To avoid the extra calories and fat, choose starchy vegetables that are prepared healthfully, such as baked, roasted, or steamed versions.

For example, swap out your French fries for roasted or baked potato, or try some roasted butternut squash. When portioned and cooked appropriately, starchy vegetables can be a healthy food choice—rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and filling fiber.

A Word From Verywell

Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables for health and longevity. If you have type 2 diabetes or are looking to modify your carbohydrate content for weight loss or another specific reason, you can eat starchy vegetables. The important thing to take into consideration is how they are prepared and how much you are eating. Choosing starchy vegetables that are baked, roasted, or grilled, for example, can increase your nutrition profile without compromising your blood sugar or weight.

Sources:

American Diabetes Association. Grains and Starchy Vegetables 

American Diabetes Association. Create Your Plate

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