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Starchy And Non-starchy Vegetables: What Are The Differences?

Fruits and vegetables are among the healthiest foods to consume daily in your diet, as they are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber and have a very low-calorie content

On the other hand, however, not all types of fruit and vegetables are the same and the type and quantity to be consumed differ according to their personal characteristics.

In this article, we see together the difference between starchy and non-starchy fruits and vegetables and their characteristics.

CHARACTERISTICS OF STARCHY VEGETABLES

Vegetables can be classified according to their high starch content , which is nothing more than a reserve carbohydrate that represents an energy source for humans.

The starch molecule has a complex structure that does not allow the digestive system of man to be digested in the form present in raw foods: these foods must in fact be consumed only after cooking (this is the case, for example, with potatoes).

Once taken in its digestible form, starch is broken down into individual sugar molecules , i.e. glucose units. This is then transported in the blood and, subsequently, used by the individual cells to carry out the metabolic processes necessary for the proper functioning of the organism.

In the event that the glucose level is higher than necessary, then the latter will be stored as an energy reserve. Prolonged consumption of starchy foods, especially if accompanied by the absence of physical exercise, could cause the development of more or less serious diseases, such as obesity and diseases such as type II diabetes.

The foods most characterized by starch are:

  1. . The cereals : namely wheat, rice, corn, barley, oats and spelled;
  2. . tubers and fruits : potatoes, American potatoes, roots, peas, plantains etc. Chestnuts also have a high starch content;
  3. . the  beans : these also represent a rich source of starch, despite their richness in protein content.

Some starchy foods have aroused conflicting ideas about their consumption.

Some believe that the latter should be completely avoided, but in reality starchy fruits and vegetables confer a wide range of beneficial nutrients for the body , which can add value to the diet when consumed taking into account their physical characteristics.

Again, when compared to non-starchy foods, starchy foods contain a higher number of carbohydrates and calories.

But do you know how to tell them apart? Let’s see the difference between starchy foods and which ones are not .

STARCHY AND NON-STARCHY VEGETABLES IN COMPARISON

One of the solutions that can help in the weight loss process is to limit the consumption of starchy foods , which, as previously stated, are characterized by a high calorie content and a high percentage of carbohydrates.

Obviously, this does not mean that starchy foods are ” bad “, especially since there is really no distinction between ” good foods ” and ” bad foods “, as the effects on the body also depend on the amount of food ingested.

The starchy foods are essential because:

  1. . they are rich in nutrients necessary for the proper functioning of our body;
  2. . they give us energy;
  3. . they give us a feeling of emotional gratification and satisfaction when consumed.

This does not mean that non-starchy foods are not able to give us as many benefits. In fact, non-starchy vegetables are important for several other reasons, such as:

  1. . high content of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals;
  2. . give volume to meals, without adding too many calories. Due to their high carbohydrate content, starchy vegetables also have more calories, about 3-6 times more than non-starchy vegetables.

The calorie content of starchy and non-starchy vegetables varies depending on the type of vegetable .

However, by and large, most starchy vegetables provide around 120 calories per 100-gram serving, compared to the 15 to 30 calories of the same amount of non-starchy vegetables.

Consuming an adequate amount of starchy vegetables in meals after cooking with methods that do not increase the calorie content of the food – boiled, toasted, baked or steamed – is unlikely to result in weight gain, if associated to a healthy diet and an active lifestyle.

Since starchy vegetables are about 3 – 6 times greater caloric source than non-starchy vegetables, it is advisable not to exceed the quantities. 

LIST OF VEGETABLES

Starches include grains such as bread, rice, pasta, and quinoa. Starchy vegetables include beans, peas, corn, potatoes, hummus, falafel, and French fries.

Below is a list of starchy vegetables showing the indicative amount for one serving (about 120 calories):

  1. . beans and lentils : 100 grams after cooking;
  2. . pumpkin : 500 grams; 
  3. . corn : 230 grams canned;
  4. . chickpea hummus : 60 grams;
  5. . peas : 230 grams cooked;
  6. . plantains : 100 grams raw;
  7. . popcorn : 4 cups;
  8. . sweet potatoes : 1 medium potato.

Other vegetables: beets, plantains, carrots. As for non-starchy vegetables we find:

  1. 1. artichokes, asparagus, bean sprouts, broccoli ;
  2. 2. cabbage, cauliflower, celery and cucumbers ;
  3. 3. eggplant, spinach, peppers, tomatoes, turnips and green leafy vegetables .

LIST OF FRUITS

Among the non-starchy fruit we find:

  1. . melon : stops ripening when it is harvested. If the latter is harvested before complete ripening, it will then be tasteless and not too sweet. As with melon, other unripe fruit does not contain starch.
  2. . Berries : they represent another fruit that must fully ripen before being harvested, otherwise they tend to have a rather sour taste. Among the berries, those that are starch-free turn out to be strawberries, blackberries and raspberries, while blueberries contain starch instead.
  3. . citrus fruits : oranges, clementines, grapefruits, lemons and other citrus fruits are not a source of starch. Approximately 80% of the calories contained in citrus fruits come from simple sugars, mainly in the form of sucrose.
  4. . other non-starchy fruit: apricots,  mangoes, pears, pineapples, avocados .

Starchy fruit contains significant amounts of complex carbohydrates or starches, but only when the fruit is not fully ripe. With the ripening of the fruit, however, the starch turns into sugars.

Here is a small list of starchy fruit :

  1. . the bananas are rich in starch if allowed to ripen, but poor in digestible starch when consumed when unripe. Although bananas still get more than 50% of their calories from simple sugars, nearly 25% of their calories come from starch. It should be considered that in the unripe state the banana also contains a lower content of nutrients. It is therefore believed that the best time to consume them is in the middle of ripeness, when it is not completely ripe, but will already present its yellow color;
  2. . other starchy fruit to include are: figs, plums, raisins, ripe pears .

We have therefore seen in this article the classification of foods based on their starch content. As previously mentioned, we do not recommend eliminating starchy foods from your diet, as they are a source of essential nutrients for the proper functioning of the body.

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