WIth their vitamin and mineral content, fiber, antioxidants and lower calorie count, it's no secret that vegetables are great for you. And while you can eat as many fibrous veggies as you want -- those are the really low-calorie veggies, like spinach, asparagus and zucchini -- you should eat starchy vegetables in moderation, especially if you're following a low-carbohydrate diet. Watch your portion size when you're serving these higher-carb veggies, or you risk exceeding your carb limit for the day.
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Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes
When you think starchy veggies, you likely think of potatoes. You're right -- one large baked potato has 59 grams of total carbohydrates. And while about 5 grams of those carbs come from fiber, which doesn't break down into sugar, that still leaves 54 grams of "net" -- digestible -- carbs. Any potato dish will significantly boost your carb intake -- a cup of hash browns has 50 grams of net carbs, while a cup of mashed potatoes has about 34 grams of net carbs.
You'll also get a hefty serving of carbs from sweet potatoes. A cup of canned mashed sweet potatoes has 55 grams of net carbs, while a medium baked sweet potato has 20 grams of net carbs.
Corn, Beets and Squash Have Carbohydrates Too
Vibrant squash, beetroot and corn give you lots of health benefits -- they're all packed with antioxidants, for example -- but they're also relatively high in carbs. A cup of canned Harvard beet slices has about 39 grams of net carbs, while the same size serving of pickled beets supplies 35 grams of net carbs.
Canned corn contains about 35 grams of net carbs per cup, while a cup of frozen corn has approximately 32 grams of net carbs. Creamed corn might be comforting, but it's also more carb-laden -- it has 45 grams of net carbs per cup.
You'll also get a significant amount of carbs from some varieties of squash. A cup of acorn squash contains roughly 21 grams of net carbs, while a cup of cubed butternut squash supplies about 15 grams.
Peas and Other High-Carb Veggies
Peas bring lots of nutritional value to your diet -- they're a good source of protein, and they're especially high in fiber, which helps with blood sugar control and prevents constipation. But they're also high in carbohydrates relative to most other veggies. A cup of canned green peas, for example, contains 16 grams of net carbs.
You'll also get higher-than-average carbs from a few other veggies. A cup of lima beans, for example, supplies 24 grams of net carbohydrates, while stewed tomatoes have about 13 grams of net carbs per cup. A cup of sliced Jerusalem artichokes will set you back by 24 grams of net carbs, and black-eyed peas have about 26 grams of net carbs per cup.
Eating Starchy Veggies on a Low-Carb Diet
If you're following a very low-carb diet, you might need to nix these higher-carb veggies during your induction phase. These diets typically call for a very low carb intake -- sometimes limited to 20 grams of net carbs per day -- and a single serving might exceed your daily carb limit. If you're going to eat carb-rich veggies on this type of diet, you'll need to stick to incredibly small portions. For example, you might mix a tablespoon of corn kernels with herbs, spices and olive oil for an easy "salsa" garnish for grilled chicken, instead of enjoying a side of corn.
More permissive low-carb diets -- for example, those that allow 100 grams of carbs per day -- leave some room for starchy veggies. Just measure your portions to avoid accidental overeating. That includes obvious measurements -- like using a measuring cup when portioning out corn kernels -- as well as weighing your whole potatoes and sweet potatoes to ensure your "medium" potato isn't more like a large. While measuring your portions takes time, it'll ensure you have an accurate idea of your carb intake for the day, which will help you reach your nutrition goals.