Starchy vegetables such as corn and potatoes often get a bad rap because of their high carbohydrate counts, but they are an excellent source of complex carbohydrates that the body needs. It all comes down to the amount and frequency they are consumed as well as how they are prepared. When compared to other low starch vegetables, ½ cup of mashed potatoes contains 15 g carb and 100-200 calories, depending on ingredients added, whereas a ½ cup of steamed broccoli provides about 5 g of carb and 25 calories. For another perspective, 2/3 cup of steamed brown rice is similar to one medium baked potato (30 g carb and 150 calories).
Since grains and starchy vegetables are somewhat similar nutritionally, it may be useful to use the “Plate Method” seen below. By having ½ your plate non-starchy vegetables and one quarter of your plate either grain or starchy vegetables, you will achieve a better balance along with meat, fish or another protein source on the other quarter.
Complex carbohydrates release glucose into the bloodstream more slowly and evenly compared to simple carbohydrates from cake, candy or other refined flours or sugars. These starchy vegetables also contain fiber and important vitamins and minerals, especially if you also eat the potato skin. Moreover, a medium baked potato has twice as much potassium as a banana. Complex carbohydrates can also be found in whole grains such as oatmeal, rice, quinoa or 100% whole wheat bread, to name a few.
It would be wise to eat a variety of dark green, purple, orange and red colored vegetables several times per week and perhaps not eat potatoes or corn daily, especially if regularly eaten as French fries, mayo-based potato salad or butter-laden mashed potatoes. A meal consisting of lean beef, a small baked potato with a dollop of nonfat plain Greek yogurt and a side of steamed carrots would be a better alternative to having beef, baked potato with butter and sour cream, noodles, and corn. The first example contains one starchy food, compared to three, and would be lower in saturated fat and calories too. How about trying some different ways to enjoy potatoes or corn?
Here are some suggestions.
• Sweet potato with eggs and spinach
• Baked potato with salsa
• Baked potato with cottage cheese
• Roasted corn on top of a salad