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No doubt potatoes stored away in root cellars during harsh winters have saved millions from starvation over the centuries. But the capacity of starchy vegetables to efficiently store lots of glucose (starch) requires those of us with diabetes to understand how to fit these nutritious foods into our daily eating plan.
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Let’s Talk Starchy Vegetables
Managing our consumption of carbohydrates, both the total volume and the timing of our daily consumption, is maybe the most important and most difficult aspect of diabetes management. And some members of today’s group illustrate that perfectly. Today we’re talking about starchy vegetables.
Now, I’ve already done a video like this on nonstarchy vegetables, and I just want to be clear on a few things. First, in many ways, vegetables are vegetables. They all contain important nutrients, antioxidants, and fiber. They come in a vast variety of tastes and appearances to brighten our plates and our homes and our gardens and to be some of our favorite foods.
Be Sure To Check Out – Diabetes and Carbohydrates – What You Need To Know About Nonstarchy Vegetables
What are the starchy vegatables?
What divides nonstarchy from starchy when it comes to diabetes is a portion size? Starchy vegetables have starch. Starch is lots of sugar, glucose bonded together for easy storage or structure. Our video about nonstarchy vegetables had us talking about portion sizes equal to 15 grams for carbohydrates in multiple cups: 2 ½, 3, even 4 cups. Today we’ll be talking in fractions of a cup at a time.
What are some starchy vegetables? Potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, winter squashes like acorn, green peas, lima beans, cassava and taro root, and parsnips are the classics.
Potato – Facts and Portions
So, let’s talk about the iconic potato, a starchy vegetable native to the Americas. In fact, we visited the land of wild potatoes in Peru and learned that potatoes weren’t introduced in Europe until the 1500s. So, a large baked potato with skin, about 10-12 ounces, gives you half of the recommended daily intake of vitamins C and B6 plus niacin, folate, iron, manganese, phosphorus, copper, magnesium. And 46% of your daily dose of potassium, more than banana, and essential for blood pressure. Add more than 6 grams of fiber too. That is a healthy food, and it’s also 60 plus grams of carbohydrate. That means our portion containing 15 grams of carb is about 3 ounces. Mashed, about ½ cup.
Potatoes are a tough one, I understand. We are confronted with them constantly……baked potatoes as the faithful dinner companion and French fries the fast-food standard. But Morton’s[TS2] “jumbo Baked Potato” is 90 grams of carbohydrate…..McDonald’s large fries almost 70 grams. Don’t forget potato and corn chips. The temptation to splurge is constantly there.
Be Sure To Check Out – Can I Eat Potatoes With Diabetes?
Corn, Green Peas, and Parsnips… Oh My!
½ cup is the portion size for corn too, and green peas, parsnips, lima beans, and sweet potatoes. Hardshell squashes have a slightly larger portion size to get 15 grams carbohydrate [TS1] ¾ cup. Taro and cassava a portion smaller…..1/3 cup.
Even Pumpkins and Plantains Can Be Starchy Vegtables
There are other vegetables and even fruit that you may or may not find on a list of starchy vegetables or a list of nonstarchy vegetables. Pumpkin is closely related to hardshell squashes but the portion size is 1 ¼ cups compared to ¾ cup for the squashes. Plantains, actually a fruit, are often listed as starchy vegetables, maybe for how they’re prepared…. The 15 grams carbohydrate portion is ¼ cup, which is certainly starchy. Rutabagas offer a 1 cup portion size and turnips closer to two cups.
But, like it or not, starchy vegetables are both incredibly healthy and starchy. Please understand, I’m not saying you can’t have any of these vegetables. Managing diabetes also means managing our carbohydrate intake from starchy vegetables. And that means learning to love portions smaller than what we may have been used to.
Until next time, when we’ll talk about beans and lentils, cheers to your health.
Don’t forget to take a look at our most frequently asked questions.
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