Starchy Vegetables

Let's talk about starchy vegetables. I'm going to view this discussion as a flip side of the low carb vegetables page. If you're trying to stay away from carbohydrates, you'll want to stay away from vegetables that are high in starch.

Low carb enthusiasts will also want to stay away from vegetables that are high in sugar. You'll know these because they taste especially sweet, and that claim is associated with just about every new variety of vegetable that gets introduced each year.

Are vegetables high in starch really all that high in carbohydrates? Yes, carbohydrates are complex sugars, and starch is one of the ways that sugar is stored in a more complex form. Fiber is another, but it's much less digestible. That's why we have to cook fibrous vegetables, otherwise, we can't break down the fiber into something that we can assimilate.

If you're a fanatic about carb intake, stay away from the following vegetables. If you're trying to reduce your carb intake, just limit yourself to once or twice a week with these starchy vegetables.

Here they are alphabetically in all their glory:

  • The general category of broad beans like lima and fava are high in starch and therefore high in carbohydrates. I can vividly recall the pasty quality of lima beans that is directly related to it's starch content. That's one of the reasons that butter goes so well with starchy vegetables - it is a good complement to their pasty quality.

  • The humble family of beets will also score high on the starch and carbohydrate scale. They usually are relatively sweet and fibrous, and therefore high in carbs.

  • Sadly, the sweet and crunchy carrot is high in carbohydrates. You can really get some sweet tasting carrots, and I believe the high sugar concentration is where quite a bit of the carbs are coming from, not so much the starch content because much of that is locked up in fiber.

    Other root and tuber vegetables are also generally high in carbohydrates. Many of them are high in sugar and starch, and therefore high in carbohydrates.

  • One of my favorite vegetables is corn, and it makes the list of starchy vegetables that are high in carbohydrates. There is nothing quite like corn-on-the-cob with butter, pepper and salt. I can make a meal out of it.

  • Another high starch vegetable is dried beans like pinto or navy, not green beans or wax beans, but the kind of beans you'd use for three bean salad or chili. Think of refried beans and you can imagine the starch content very well.

  • Delicious green peas make the list of starchy vegetables. I've never been a big pea eater, partly because shell peas are a pain to process, but I do enjoy fresh peas. Snow peas and snap peas that are consumed with the pod will have a lower percentage of starch content simply because you're eating the fibrous pod as well as the peas.

  • I enjoy the nutty flavor of Jerusalem artichoke, also known as a "sun choke," and it makes the list of starchy vegetables as well. I can't see people consuming a large quantity of this tuber, nevertheless, it's a high carb vegetable because of it's high starch content.

  • It's no mystery that potatoes make the list of vegetables that are high in starch. They are the original high starch vegetable, right up there with white rice. These are definitely off your list of food if you're trying to eat low carb.

  • Another root crop, the rutabaga is one of the starchy vegetables that should be avoided if you're trying to eat low carb. It's a relative of the turnip, and a long cold storage crop like winter squash.

  • The world of winter squash is another area to avoid if you're trying to reduce starch intake. Yellow squash and zucchini are fine, but stay away from the high starch of winter squash varieties. Oddly enough, pumpkin isn't a high carb vegetable, but I don't know many folks that make anything except pie out of pumpkins - and those are generally high in carbs.

  • Next on my list is sweet potatoes. Again, if you cook them up, it isn't hard to see that they are a starchy vegetable just by their appearance alone. I don't have a hard time avoiding these as they aren't my favorite vegetable anyway.

  • Last on my list (so far) of starchy vegetables is the turnip. It's closely related to the rutabaga, and another of the root crops that often are high in starch and simple sugars. I enjoy them raw with a dash of salt. Turnips can be stored in-ground or in the basement in climates where the winters are especially harsh.

So there is a partial list of starch laden vegetables that are naturally high in carbs. Since you're the one doing the vegetable gardening, it won't be hard to avoid them simply by not planting them, or just planting a few.

Here's a link if you're interested in low carb vegetables.

Done with Starchy Vegetables, take me back to List of Vegetables

Burpee Gardening

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