Starchy vs. non-starchy vegetables


If you have ever had a consult with one of us, or maybe joined one of our seminars or other events, you have most likely heard us talk about the importance of eating more non-starchy vegetables. What exactly does that mean? And which vegetables are starchy? It all comes down to the amount of carbohydrates they contain.

Starch – The storage form of carbohydrate in plants

Starchy Vegetables

In general, we categorize peas, corn, and potatoes as starchy vegetables. (Technically peas are a legume, but most of us think of them as a vegetable.) Some of the sweeter winter squash varieties, such as butternut and acorn squash, can have a higher carbohydrate content as well.

Non-Starchy Vegetables

There is a much wider variety of non-starchy vegetables including cruciferous veggies like broccoli and cauliflower, leafy greens like kale and lettuces and even onions, peppers, mushrooms, and cucumbers.

Here is a chart to show you the wide range of carbohydrates or starch that vegetables can contain.

There are no “bad” vegetables. They all contain a variety of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.

  • Non-starchy vegetables are encouraged because many of us are eating more carbohydrates than our bodies can handle. Your specific health needs and goals will determine what works best for you.
  • Starchy vegetables do get a bad rap, especially potatoes, mainly because they are eaten as fries more than any other way. Deep frying anything negates its nutrition potential, but potatoes are actually a great source of potassium, vitamin C, B vitamins, fiber and phytonutrients (especially the colorful ones) – same with corn and peas when prepared in a healthy way.
Do you know the difference between a starchy and non-starchy #vegetable? #saslife Click To Tweet

Need some recipe ideas?

Sweet Potato Recipe Roundup

Instant Pot Buttery Lemon Potatoes

Roasted Honeynut Squash and Kale Sauté

Zucchini Butternut Squash Pancakes

side view of a stack of 5 zucchini butternut squash pancakes with a sprig of thyme

Mexican Street Corn and Kale 

Kale, Sesame and Ginger Salad

Jicama Cabbage Salad with Asian Dressing

Kale Chips

Cauliflower Fried Rice

Oven Roasted Asparagus

5-Minute Bok Choy

Carrot and Beet Salad


About Author

Kelly LeSage, MS, RDN, LDN, IFNCP


Kelly is a Nutritionist at the HCC at SAS Institute Inc. in Cary NC. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Science from Arizona State University and her Master of Science degree in Nutrition from Bastyr University. She is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and an Integrative and Functional Nutrition Certified Practitioner. Her areas of expertise include functional nutrition, health and wellness education, prenatal nutrition, food allergies and intolerances and culinary nutrition. Follow @klesageRD on Twitter.

Leave A Reply

Back to Top