You've heard the phrase, "Eat your vegetables!" and that includes starchy vegetables, too. Starchy veggies like corn and peas might pack in more carbs than non-starchy veggies like leafy greens and broccoli, but they're also filled with important nutrients like vitamins, fiber and antioxidants.
First off, to understand what starchy veggies are, you'll have to know what starch is. Carbohydrates are the body's main source of fuel and come in three main forms, including sugar, starch and fiber, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Starch is a form of complex carbohydrate, meaning it's composed of many units of sugar, according to the Mayo Clinic. And while you may generally consider sugar to be "unhealthy," natural sources of starch (like the vegetables below) are much healthier than refined carbohydrates (like cereals, cookies and white crackers).
Starchy vegetables are also high in fiber, which can help promote healthy digestion and satiety, regulating your blood sugar levels, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. While starchy veggies are a great source of vital nutrients, you'll want to limit your intake of them if you have diabetes since they can raise your blood sugar levels.
1. White Potatoes
Whether you like them mashed or baked, potatoes are a low-calorie source of starch and fiber. One medium potato, skin included, totals about 164 calories with about 37 grams of carbohydrates and 4.5 grams of fiber, according to the USDA. This serving will also supply you with about 4.4 grams of plant protein.
Potatoes are also a great source of vitamin B6, which is responsible for a variety of functions in the body, including protein metabolism, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). One cup of potatoes provides about 21 percent of your daily value of vitamin B6.
2. Sweet Potatoes
Much like their golden counterparts, sweet potatoes are low in calories and high in fiber. One baked sweet potatoes totals about 100 calories with about 4 grams of fiber and 26 grams of carbohydrates, according to the USDA.
One baked sweet potato will supply you with more than 120 percent of your daily recommended value of vitamin A. Vitamin A is critical for healthy immune function, reproductive function and vision as well as plays a big role in maintaining heart and kidney health, according to the NIH.
A fall-season staple, pumpkin is a great way to add some low-calorie density to your plate. A cup of pumpkin is only about 30 calories, with 7.5 grams of carbohydrates and less than a gram of fiber, according to the USDA.
Pumpkin is a great source of vitamin C, providing more than 10 percent of your daily recommended value. Best known for its immune-boosting abilities, vitamin C is also responsible for helping with your body's ability to process protein, according to the NIH.
Classified as a starchy vegetable when it's on the cob (and a whole grain when it's in kernel form), corn is another great source of starch. A half-cup serving totals about 70 calories with 16 grams of carbohydrates and 1 gram of fiber, according to the USDA.
5. Green Peas
Green peas are composed of mainly carbohydrates, with about 21 grams per cup, according to the USDA. This starchy vegetable is a great source of fiber, packing about 8.3 grams of fiber per cup with only 117 calories.
Peas are also high in protein — providing about 5.4 grams per cup — and can even be found as a powder supplement. This veggie is also high in iron, which is an important part of red blood cells, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Much like peas, most types of beans are rich in protein and fiber as well as resistant starch, which can help balance your gut microbiome, per Johns Hopkins University. A half-cup of black beans totals about 19 grams of carbohydrates with 7 grams of fiber and 7 grams of protein, according to the USDA.
Garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas) total about 110 calories per half-cup with 20 grams of carbohydrates, 7 grams of fiber and 7 grams of protein, according to the USDA. While chickpeas make for a delicious foundation for hummus, they're also a tasty salad topper.
A star in most burrito bowls, pinto beans top off at 120 calories per half-cup with 22 grams of carbohydrates, 7 grams of fiber and 7 grams of protein, according to the USDA.
Although generally lower in carbs than its starchy counterparts, squash is another vegetable source of carbohydrates and fiber. With about 3 grams of carbs and 1.2 grams of fiber, a cup of squash is only 18 calories, according to the USDA.
Squash is also a decent source of vitamin A, vitamin E and potassium.
Just like squash, carrots are lower in carbs than the other starchy vegetables, supplying about 53 calories, 12 grams of carbs and 3.5 grams of fiber per cup, chopped, according to the USDA.
If you've heard that carrots are good for your vision, you're not wrong: A cup of raw carrots supplies more than 100 percent of your daily value of vitamin A, which supports healthy vision, according to the NIH.
A cup of sliced parsnips is only about 100 calories with 24 grams of carbohydrates, 6.5 grams of fiber and nearly 2 grams of protein, according to the USDA. Parsnips make a good source of potassium, packing about 11 percent of your daily value.
Potassium is a great nutrient to incorporate especially if you're a fan of the salt shaker. This nutrient can help counteract the effects of sodium, helping control blood pressure, according to the NIH.
Taro, a purple root, is probably one of the lesser-known starchy vegetables. But at only 116 calories per cup, with 28 carbs and 4 grams of fiber, according to the USDA, taro definitely deserves a little time in the spotlight.
Taro is a wonderful source of vitamin E, supplying about 17 percent of your daily value. Vitamin E is important for bodily functions like your vision, reproduction and blood health, according to the Mayo Clinic. Vitamin E also has antioxidant properties, which may combat effects of free radicals like tobacco smoke or radiation.
- Mayo Clinic: "Carbohydrates: How Carbs Fit Into a Healthy Diet"
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: "Fiber"
- USDA: "Potatoes, Flesh and Skin, Raw"
- USDA: "Sweet potato, Raw, Unprepared (Includes foods for USDA's Food Distribution Program)"
- NIH: "Vitamin A"
- USDA: "Corn"
- USDA: "Peas, Green, Raw"
- Mayo Clinic: "Mayo Clinic Q and A: Considering Switching to a Vegetarian Diet"
- USDA: "Black Beans"
- USDA: "Garbanzo Beans"
- USDA: "Pinto Beans"
- USDA: "Squash, Summer, Yellow, Raw"
- USDA: "Carrots, Raw"
- USDA: "Pumpkin, Raw"
- NIH: "Vitamin C"
- USDA: "Parsnips, Raw"
- NIH: "Potassium"
- Mayo Clinic: "Vitamin E"
- Johns Hopkins University: "What is Resistant Starch?"