It has been estimated that over 90 percent of the population consumes too much sugar and starch. This can be the number one health challenge facing our population. Reducing the intake of starchy foods can help reduce intake of excess carbohydrate and sugar.
Starch is a type of complex carbohydrate that takes a couple steps in order to break down in your gut. Saliva in your mouth breaks complex starch molecules into maltose, which is a simple carbohydrate chain. Once maltose molecules reach your small intestine, they are further broken down into glucose. This is the simplest form of carbohydrates and is the primary source of energy for all cells, including brain cells.
Starchy vegetables provide approximately 15 grams of carbohydrates per serving, whereas non-starchy vegetables usually have less than 5 grams, according to the American Dietetic Association. A single serving of starchy veggies is about a 1/2-cup or 4-ounce serving, whereas one serving of non-starchy vegetables is 1 cup of raw veggies. Most of the carbohydrate is fiber so unless you eat more than 1 cup of cooked or 2 cups of raw at a time, you may not need to count the carbohydrates from the non-starchy vegetables. One serving of starchy vegetables provides approximately 80 calories, versus a single serving of non-starchy vegetables that has a minimal 25 calories.
Non-starchy vegetables are typically flowering parts of the plant. Lettuce, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber, spinach, mushrooms, onions, peppers and tomatoes are all considered non-starchy vegetables.
Asparagus: Low in calories and sodium, it is a good source of vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium and zinc, and a very good source of dietary fibre, protein, beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, thiamin, riboflavin, rutin, niacin, folic acid, iron, phosphorus, potassium, copper, manganese and selenium, as well as chromium, a trace mineral that enhances the ability ofinsulin to transport glucose from the bloodstream into cells. The amino acid asparagine gets its name from asparagus, as the asparagus plant is relatively rich in this compound.
Broccoli: It is high in vitamin C and dietary fiber. It also contains multiple nutrients with potent anti-cancer properties, such as diindolylmethane and small amounts of selenium. A single serving provides more than 30 mg of vitamin C and a half-cup provides 52 mg of vitamin C.
Carrot: A good source of dietary fiber (11% DV), vitamin K (16% DV) and vitamin B6 (11% DV). Carrots are 88% water, 4.7% sugar, 2.6% protein, 1% ash, and 0.2% fat. Carrot dietary fiber comprises mostly cellulose, with smaller proportions of hemicellulose, lignin and starch. Free sugars in carrot include sucrose, glucose and fructose.
Cabbage: Cruciferous vegetables are non-starchy and part of the Brassica family. Cabbage belongs to the same family. It is a good source (10–19% DV) of dietary fiber, vitamin B6 and folate, with no other nutrients having significant content per 100 gram serving.
Eggplant: Nutritionally, eggplant is low in fat,protein, and carbohydrates. It also contains relatively low amounts of most important vitamins and minerals.
Lettuce: Depending on the variety, lettuce is a good source of vitamin A, vitamin K and potassium, with higher concentrations of vitamin A found in darker green lettuces. It also provides some dietary fiber (concentrated in the spine and ribs), carbohydrates, protein and a small amount of fat.
Tomatoes: The tomato has a much lower sugar content than other edible fruits, and is therefore not as sweet. Typically served as part of a salad or main course of a meal, rather than at dessert, it is considered a vegetable for most culinary uses. They are a rich source of the anti-inflammatory antioxidant lycopene. In a study published in the October 2012 issue of “Neurology,” researchers identified a connection between elevated lycopene levels in the blood and stroke protection.
Cauliflower: Low in fat, low in carbohydrates but high in dietary fiber, folate, water, and vitamin C, possessing a high nutritional density. Cauliflower contains several phyto-chemicals, common in the cabbage family, that may be beneficial to human health. Low carbohydrate dieters can use cauliflower as a reasonable substitute for potatoes or rice; while they can produce a similar texture, or mouth feel, they lack the starch of the originals.
Celery: A friend to low-carb eaters, mostly as a great vehicle for peanut butter, dips, tuna salad, etc. It also gives us a fair amount of vitamins and minerals for very little carbohydrate and calories.
Okra: A popular health food due to its high fiber, vitamin C, and folate content. Okra is also known for being high in antioxidants. Okra is also a good source of calcium and potassium. 4 oz of raw okra contains, 4 grams effective (net) carbohydrate plus 4 grams fiber and 35 calories.
Reduce or eliminate if you can, foods such as soft drinks, cookies, pastry, ice cream, maple syrup, potatoes, molasses, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, pasteurized honey, white bread, white rice and white pasta.