There are two main types of vegetables: starchy vegetables and non-starchy vegetables. The first category is richer in carbohydrates, fiber and calories, whereas the second has them in reduced quantities. Both types are very important for a healthy and balanced diet, but if we learn more about them we can also learn how to use them to various purposes. For example, non starchy vegetables are recommended to diabetics precisely because they contain low amounts of carbohydrates and calories, thus creating fewer imbalances in blood sugar levels. Moreover, they are sometimes also recommended in weight loss diets because they allow you to eat more and thus get fuller on fewer calories.
Yet this isn’t completely true, because by eating starchy vegetables, you can eat less and feel full; so ultimately, it is up to each individual to decide how they want to construct their diets, and to what purpose. These types of vegetables have less water in them, but they are rich in nutrients and calories; thus, they can be better for our diets in the winter, when we need more energy. Nevertheless, they should be consumed in moderation; they can replace poor-quality carbohydrates that are found in bread, grains or pasta. Some of the most common starchy vegetables are squashes and certain types of pumpkins, potatoes and yams, peas, corn. Diabetics should avoid or consume them in moderation, because they raise blood sugar levels.
Starch, also used as an ingredient in preparing a lot of foods, especially store-bought and semi-prepared, is a carbohydrate also known as amylum. This carbohydrate is made up of a large number of glucose units, and it is the most common in human diet. As for plants, they use it to store energy, which explains why it can translate as weight gain in humans. At this point, it is important to say that having a diet rich in the fiber produced by starchy vegetables can actually lower cholesterol is used properly; thus, it reduces risks of heart disease, and the antioxidants it can contain – such as beta-carotene, vitamin C, lutein or beta-cryptoxanthin – can reduce the risks for macular degeneration and cataracts. In layman’s terms, it keeps your eyes healthy and your eyesight sharp.
Starchy vegetables can also be a good source of B vitamins, and minerals, they can reduce risks of developing arthritis, they can help with recurring migraines and even reduce symptoms of PMS. Winter squash, yams and sweet potatoes, which are orange in color, are a good source of beta-carotene, a substance which helps the body regenerate skin and hair cells. The B vitamins can be crucial in maintaining that grey matter we all rely on, in that it helps our memory and reduce risks of cardiovascular disease.
These and many more benefits can be drawn from starchy vegetables; remember however that caution and moderation need to be practiced with them, as with most things in life. Consume them responsibly depending on what you are trying to achieve: lose weight, manage your diabetes or maintain a healthy lifestyle.