Nonstarchy vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, cabbage and peppers. Other vegetables include spinach and cucumber. Starchy vegetables include carrots, potatoes, peas, corn and squash. An easy way to remember this is that nonstarchy vegetables are typically stalks, leaves and flowering portions of the plant, whereas starchy vegetables are typically roots, bulbs and kernels.
Both starchy and nonstarchy vegetables offer value toward a healthy diet, including fiber, vitamins and minerals. Although higher in calories, starchy vegetables do provide several benefits. They are often good sources of B vitamins, which promote healthy brain function and heart health. Starchy vegetables are also good sources of the minerals potassium, magnesium and zinc, which are important for heart and body tissue health. Additionally, antioxidants such as vitamin C, beta-carotene and lutein are present in starchy vegetables.
The higher calorie and carbohydrate content is due to the presence of starch, a complex carbohydrate. A typical serving of a starchy vegetable contains about 80 calories, whereas nonstarchy vegetables provide about 25 calories. Starchy vegetables contain about 15 grams of carbohydrates as opposed to about 5 grams of carbohydrates in nonstarchy vegetables. Additionally, the serving size for starchy vegetables is lower than the serving size for nonstarchy vegetables at 1/2 cup versus 1 cup. Because of these differences, nonstarchy vegetables are recommended to be enjoyed without limit, while starchy vegetables are generally recommended to be enjoyed in moderation.