These Vegetables Could Be Key For Nutrient & Fiber Absorption, Research Says
From keto to low-carb, there's a lot of negative press around carbohydrates in the wellness world these days. And while some people may find that a low-carb, low-starch, or keto diet works for them, a new perspective study published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition1 says we might want to revisit the question of carbs.
Namely, the research highlights the important role starchy vegetables play when it comes to fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Here's what to know.
Studying the role of starchy vegetables
For this study, associate clinical professor and nutrition expert Keith T. Ayoob, Ed.D., wanted to dig into the impact of omitting starchy vegetables, like potatoes, from one's diet in favor of seemingly "healthier" options like rice.
To do so, he created two different menu models: one with more starchy vegetables and one with more grains. The starchy vegetable menu included white potatoes at breakfast and dinner. The second menu replaced the starchy vegetables with grain-based foods, specifically whole wheat bread at breakfast and white rice at dinner.
Then, using menu model analyses, Ayoob saw that after just one day replacing starchy vegetables with grains, we'd have 21% less potassium, 17% less vitamin B6, 11% less vitamin C, and 10% less fiber.
As Ayoob notes in a news release, "It's tempting to think of all carbohydrate foods as interchangeable, but these foods are categorized within different food groups for a reason—perhaps most importantly, they tend to have vastly different vitamin and mineral contents."
In short? "Nutrition analysis clearly demonstrates that starchy vegetables, including potatoes, are not nutritionally interchangeable with grains [...] As with grains, a diverse intake of starchy vegetables should be encouraged," Ayoob writes.
What to do about it
This study is by no means saying you should suddenly eat a ton of potatoes. Rather, like everything, Ayoob says, nutritional guidance comes down to "balance, variety, and moderation."
"It's important to get the right mix of vegetables and grains and include both starchy and nonstarchy vegetables to help ensure we're meeting both our macronutrient and micronutrient needs," he says.
And starchy vegetables, in general, are great for gut and hormonal health. As registered dietitian Ella Davar, R.D., CDN, previously told mindbodygreen, between their gut-healthy fiber and other nutrients like calcium, iron, and B vitamins, "starchy vegetables in moderation are a necessary part of a healthy, balanced diet." Bonus points if you eat them after you've cooked and cooled them, a process that increases their resistant starch content.
Here's a handful of starchy vegetables to get you started:
- Sweet potatoes
- Green peas
If you thought that certain starchy vegetables should be avoided in favor of things like whole-grain bread or rice, you might want to think again. In moderation, starchy vegetables provide us with an excellent source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and have a pivotal role in a well-rounded diet.
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Editor, a registered yoga instructor, and an avid astrologer and tarot reader. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from State University of New York at Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.