When you think of starchy foods, what comes to mind? More than likely it’s typically the “white” carbohydrates- potatoes, rice and pasta. But did you know that there are many other vegetables, fruits, grains and beans/legumes that are considered starches? Indeed starches are a carbohydrate, and some “white” foods aren’t the best choice when eating healthfully. Yet, starchy foods can be put to good use in one’s diet.

Starchy foods are basically three groups, breads/grains, beans/legumes and some fruits and vegetables. All three of these groups are good sources of protein, vitamins/minerals, fiber and other nutrients.

Breads/Grains: When it comes to breads/grains, this group includes bread (all types), crackers and other flour based goods, cereals, popcorn, rice, oats, and grains (even gluten free ones) such as are wheat, barley, quinoa, rye, millet and others.


Beans/legumes: Starchy foods in this group include lentils, kidney beans, black-eyed peas, chickpeas, black beans, white beans, pinto beans and any other types of beans.

Fruits/Vegetables: Starchy vegetables include peas, corn, potatoes, yams and other root vegetables, plantains, green bananas, various winter varieties. Fruits include basically bananas.

what are starchy foods2

So how can I put these starchy foods to good use? Well, when it comes to breads/ grains choose breads or other packaged goods that are not heavily processed and whole grains such as brown rice or quinoa. Think about how these foods are prepared has anything been done to these foods to reduce the nutrient content/increase the starch? For example white bread uses flour that has been stripped of its nutrients. In consuming beans and legumes and starchy vegetables, again consider preparation to get the good use out of these foods. Some cooking methods can change the integrity of the starch, such as mashing (potatoes, yams). And cooking beans with lard, deep frying potatoes or plantains, adds fat and calories to an otherwise healthy food. Additionally, striping the vegetables of their natural fibers such as peeling potatoes will increase the starch. The one outlier is bananas, its best to consume them while the skin is just yellowed, the more brown the peel is the more sugar/starch will be in the fruit.

My suggestion when examining the starchy foods in your diet is to examine your of choices of these foods. Are you choosing to have white rice instead of brown rice, to have more than a serving, to fry these foods or to consume heavily processed food? It’s these choices that often get us into trouble when it comes to starchy carbohydrates.

Instead of banning them all together, put these starchy foods to good use in your diet! These groups contain many options for healthy choices are full of vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients. Just remember to keep these tips in mind when it comes to starches:

· Starchy foods tend to be more calories dense so use caution with portions.

· Consider preparation. Bake instead of frying. Keep foods whole and consume the skin if possible. Don’t mash (mashing it up speeds up the digestion process/increases starch). Cook pasta al dente so it has a little bite to it. Look for other ways to prepare (new research suggest cooking white rice with coconut oil will reduce the starch)

· Food Pairings: What else are you eating with these foods? Be sure to load up on non-starchy foods to create a balanced meal. Example baked fish with mixed green salad and a portion of a skin on roasted potatoes.


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