Contrary to what most people believe, these types of vegetables cannot be freely eaten but should be limited to about twenty-five per cent of a plate.
All vegetables are classified as either starchy and non-starchy. Non-Starchy vegetables contain a small amount of starch. Starch is basically carbohydrates that the body uses as fuel. However, there is a misconception that all vegetables can be eaten to any extent because of their vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. This is not true, there are starchy vegetables to be eaten minimally to avoid weight gain.
What Are Starchy Vegetables?
Starchy vegetables contain a high level of carbohydrates, and of course high calories. They are not that easy to spot, because they do not have that obvious look of carbs. If care is not taken about portion size for these starchy vegetables, it can spike up the blood sugar level, which could be dangerous for diabetics. Examples are, Corn and corn varieties, green peas, most legumes like lentils, lima beans, black-eye beans, (but not runner beans), kidney beans, butternut, chickpeas, yams, cassava, plantain, potatoes and its counterpart, sweet potatoes, (although sweet potatoes have a lower GI than white potatoes), beetroots, pumpkin, taro and water chestnut.
This does not mean that these vegetables are not healthy, all it does mean is that they should be eaten sparingly. They are also nutritious and are packed with antioxidants and vitamins as well as minerals. For example, green peas contain a high amount of fibre as well as anti-cancer oxidants.
5 Ways To Safely Enjoy Starchy Vegetables
The main reason why these veggies should be minimised is because of their high glycemic index (meaning they spike up blood sugar level after eating them). So how do you enjoy them despite the risk they pose?
- Portion Size — what you need here is portion size, or count the nutritional intake per plate. It is easier to use your palm as a measure of what is adequate for your plate. The UK Diabetes Association says not more than 25% of your plate should consist of starchy vegetables.
2. Measure Blood Sugar — Take your blood sugar level before and after consuming any starchy vegetables. This will indicate how badly you are affected by the type of vegetables and should guide you on whether to continue eating them or not.
3. Be careful in the food preparation — for instance, if you want to eat potatoes, for example, bake, cook or steam instead of frying, (chips). This is because the mode of preparation can increase the calorie content of foods. Also eating your potatoes with skin is a lot healthier than eating without.
4. Turn starchy vegetables into resistance starch — some starchy vegetables can be turned into resistance starch before eating. This is by cooking a day before and cooling them, then reheat to eat.
Nutrition Scientists are keen to reduce high glucose in these carbs by integrating starch chemistry into nutrition.medium.com
For example, boiling potatoes and serving hot gives a glycemic index of 89, whereas if cooled and reheat to eat gives a GI of just 56. This way, the resistant starch in them is not digestible by the gut enzymes, hence your sugar level is stable and also make you full up longer.
5. Choose a lower variety of starchy vegetables — If you choose green plantain for instance over a ripe one, the starch in green plantain is a lot lower.
Always remember that food diversity, in which you eat varieties of different foods, howbeit in small quantities is the best for good health.