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Highest Carb Foods

What Counts as Carbs

We are pumped to share one of our fave stories from Shape here on FitSugar. This week Shape turns to nutritional consultant Mike Roussell, PhD, for some help!

Q: My dietitian told me to cut back on carbs, but I'm confused about what counts as a grain and which vegetables are starches.

Carbs Without Cause: 8 Foods Worse than White Bread

A: When restricting your carbs, start with the most carbohydrate-dense foods in your diet: foods with added sugar. Then work your way to reducing grains and pastas, then potatoes and corn, then the remaining starchy vegetables.

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The exchange system from the American Diabetes Association groups different foods by similar nutritional characteristics. According to their list, the following are grains:

  • Wheat and whole-wheat flour
  • Oatmeal
  • Cornmeal
  • Popcorn
  • Brown rice
  • Whole rye
  • Whole-grain barley
  • Wild rice
  • Buckwheat
  • Millet
  • Quinoa

Find out which vegetables count as carbs after the break!

10 New Ways to Eat Quinoa

And these vegetables are starches:

  • Parsnip
  • Potato
  • Pumpkin
  • Acorn squash
  • Butternut squash
  • Green Peas
  • Corn

While this second group is a good guideline, your major offenders — the highest-carb, lowest-fiber, fastest-digesting, lowest-nutrient vegetables — are potatoes and corn. The others may be starchy, but their fiber content and impact on blood sugar are better for you. Pumpkin, for example, has 20 grams of carbohydrates in one cup, but it also contains 7 grams of fiber.

Squash should be fine on your diet, unless you are trying to greatly restrict your carbohydrates in order to follow a ketogenic diet (<50g of carbohydrates per day). In that case, vegetables such as butternut squash, peas, and acorn squash will put you over your carb limit too quickly. But that still leaves you with great lower-carbohydrates vegetables, including zucchini, broccoli, spinach, cabbage, celery, and asparagus to name a few.

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