The Difference Between Starchy and Non-Starchy Vegetables

What’s the Difference Between Starchy and Non-Starchy Vegetables?

Publish Date March 9, 2022 5 Minute Read
Author By Anna Smith, MS, RDN, LDN

Even though it’s clear that they should be included in every diet, are all vegetables nutritionally equal? Though all vegetables boast an impressive nutrient profile, to answer this question we must break them down into their two main categories: starchy vegetables and non-starchy vegetables. What do these terms mean and which you should start incorporating into your cooking more often?

What are Starchy Vegetables?

Starchy vegetables, as their name implies, have a higher starch (or carbohydrate) content than their non-starchy cousins. Yet, just because they contain more carbs doesn’t mean they’re unhealthy – in fact, it’s quite the opposite! Since starchy vegetables are unprocessed and include only one ingredient, they’re recommended for any and every diet. Plus, they’re rich in fiber, promote lower cholesterol, and are loaded with vitamins and minerals. When choosing your veggies, fill your plate with a rainbow of color to get the highest nutrient content. Here’s a simple list of popular starchy vegetables to get you started:

  • All varieties of potatoes
  • Beans (kidney, navy, pinto and cannellini)
  • Chickpeas
  • Sweet peas
  • Corn
  • Butternut and acorn squash
  • Pumpkin
  • Yams

Generally speaking, one serving of these low starch vegetables (½ cup) packs about 15 grams of carbs and 80 calories.

What are Non-starchy Vegetables?

The main difference between starchy and non-starchy veggies are the calorie and carbohydrate content. A single serving of non-starchy vegetables (½ cup) offers about 5 grams of carbs and 25 calories. Non-starchy veggies are also rich in fiber, promote lower cholesterol, and are loaded with vitamins and minerals. If you’re following a diabetic or weight loss eating plan, the typical recommendation is to fill ¼ of your plate with starchy vegetables. Check out this simple non-starchy vegetable list for some popular options to add to your cart.

  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant
  • Spinach
  • Tomatoes
  • Turnips

Depending on age and gender, federal guidelines recommend that adults eat at least 2-3 cups of vegetables per day as part of a healthy eating pattern. Check out some of our favorite recipes below to incorporate more starchy and non-starchy veggies into your daily diet.

For more healthy nutrition advice, learn more about our team of Registered Dietitians or head to our Healthy Living page.

Disclaimer: This information is for educational purposes only and not intended to provide healthcare recommendations. For concerns, please see a healthcare provider.

Delicious Recipes with Starchy & Non-Starchy Veggies