• You're all caught up!

A List of Starch-Based Foods That You Should Eat

author image Sarah Collins
Sarah Collins has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Penn State-University Park and formal education in fitness and nutrition. Collins is an experienced blogger, editor and designer, who specializes in nutrition, fitness, weddings, food and parenting topics. She has been published in Arizona Weddings, Virginia Bride and on Gin & Pork and Bashelorette.com.
A List of Starch-Based Foods That You Should Eat
Potatoes — both white and sweet — provide a variety of nutrients for a healthy diet. Photo Credit Howard Shooter/Dorling Kindersley RF/Getty Images

The popularity of low-carb diets might leave you thinking that starches are pure evil, at least when it comes to weight loss. But many types of starches -- also known as complex carbohydrates -- contain a wealth of beneficial nutrients, including fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, making them a valuable part of a healthy diet when consumed in moderation. Pick and choose which starches to include in your diet, limiting processed, refined starches in favor of nutrient-dense options such as whole grains, starchy vegetables and legumes.

Beans and Lentils

When it comes to choosing healthy starches, beans and lentils should be at the top of your list. Dr. Melina Jampolis, a physician and nutrition specialist on CNN Health, calls beans one of the healthiest starch options because they are a rich source of fiber, plant-based protein and antioxidants. Lentils also contain protein and fiber, and each 1/2-cup serving offers 3.4 grams of resistant starch, which Health.com says helps to boost metabolism and burn fat. Other healthy legumes include dried peas, such as black-eyed and split peas.

Potatoes of All Sorts

White potatoes might be higher on the glycemic index -- a tool for measuring how quickly a food raises your blood sugar -- than other foods, but they also offer a variety of nutrients, including potassium in the flesh and fiber in the skin. Sweet potatoes are particularly nutritious; the skin offers plenty of fiber, while the pinky-orange flesh contains beta-carotene, an antioxidant that could help prevent or manage arthritis and also contribute to the health of your skin, hair and eyes. Sweet potatoes also provide potassium and vitamin C.

Starchy Vegetables

Beyond potatoes, choose from a variety of starchy vegetables such as winter squashes, including butternut, acorn and kobacha, as well as green peas and corn. Although these starchy vegetables are higher in calories than other veggies such as leafy greens, broccoli and cucumbers, the nutrients in them include antioxidants such as vitamin C, lutein, zeaxanthin and beta-cryptoxanthin, and the minerals magnesium and zinc. The American Diabetes Association also recommends parsnips and pumpkin.

Whole Grains

Don’t eliminate grains from your diet, but rather choose whole grains over refined versions. Expand your side dish recipes to those that include common grains such as brown rice and more exotic options such as whole-grain barley, whole farro, quinoa and millet. Other whole grains include bulgur, oatmeal, popcorn, whole rye, wild rice, buckwheat, triticale and sorghum. If you’re purchasing a grain product, such as bread, read the ingredients list to see if it includes a whole grain as the first ingredient.

LiveStrong Calorie Tracker
THE LIVESTRONG.COM MyPlate Nutrition, Workouts & Tips
  • Gain 2 pounds per week
  • Gain 1.5 pounds per week
  • Gain 1 pound per week
  • Gain 0.5 pound per week
  • Maintain my current weight
  • Lose 0.5 pound per week
  • Lose 1 pound per week
  • Lose 1.5 pounds per week
  • Lose 2 pounds per week
  • Female
  • Male
ft. in.



Demand Media