Starchy vs Non-starchy Vegetables

People are always coming to me with questions and concerns about foods that they're unsure to eat. And starch is an interesting case.

There are two categories of vegetables – starchy and non-starchy, but both are important for a balanced diet, in the right proportions. Both categories add nutrients and value to a healthy diet. But what do they both mean?

My clients have told me that they avoid starchy vegetables to avoid eating extra carbohydrates. But while it is necessary to always have some carbs in your diet, these starchy foods are also more filling, which prevents overeating in the long run. 

Non-Starchy Vegetables

Non-starchy vegetables contain a small amount of starch and therefore a lower proportion of carbohydrates and calories. You can consume a large portion of non-starchy vegetables without taking in many calories. In other words, non-starchy vegetables add volume to meals without adding calories and are very helpful in keeping weight down.

Examples of non-starchy vegetables include:
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Zucchini
  • Green beans
  • Cabbage
  • Eggplant
  • Mushrooms
  • Asparagus
  • Snow peas
  • Spinach
  • Salad greens

Starchy Vegetables

Starchy vegetables, on the other hand, have more carbohydrates and calories than non-starchy, but are still important. They are better consumed in moderation but should not be excluded in a healthy balanced diet. Often people deliberately exclude these vegetables in their diet to save on calories, but this will backfire when they are left feeling hungry. 

Starchy vegetables have many beneficial nutrients, as well as ‘resistant’ starch (a starch that takes longer to digest), which increases the filling factor of a meal. This is particularly helpful in winter for those hearty and satisfying soups!

Examples of starchy vegetables include:
  • Potatoes
  • Corn
  • Pumpkin
  • Peas
  • Parsnip
  • Sweet potato

If you have any questions about maintaining a healthy diet or weight loss, then feel free to contact me for a free first consultation. I am now offering my health programs by phone or video consultation. Please enquire by email or online, to work out a session that suits you.

Here’s a healthy winter recipe you can try at home that makes use of both starchy and non-starchy vegetables!

Winter Vegetable and Lentil Soup

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried mixed herbs
  • 4 cups chopped veggies (carrot, potato, zucchini, celery, cabbage)
  • 250g brown lentils (washed and drained)
  • 1½ cups chicken or veg stock
  • 1½ cups water
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

1. Add olive oil to a large pot and heat over medium heat. Add onion and cook for 2 minutes until soft.

2. Stir in chopped veggies, herbs and lentils, and cook for 2 minutes. Then add stock, water, tomato paste and bay leaves. Bring to a boil.

3. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 60 minutes or until lentils and vegetables are cooked. Add more water if required.

4. Just before serving, remove bay leaves and stir in chopped parsley. Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper and salt.


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