The Best Starchy Vegetables for Diabetes

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By : Suvarna Sheth

Starchy vegetables are an excellent source of carbohydrate, fiber, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants.  While they are a good source of energy and can be part of a healthy diet, it’s important for someone with diabetes to eat them in moderation.

If you have type 2 diabetes, you may have been told by your doctor to limit the number of starchy vegetables you consume.  This is because starchy vegetables have higher amounts of carbohydrates, which causes blood glucose levels to rise.  They are also high in calories and can cause weight gain.

However, the Joslin Center for Diabetes reminds people with diabetes to keep in mind that avoiding starchy foods is a myth.  The truth is that everyone needs some carbohydrate in their diet.

Remember to use portion control when enjoying dishes with starchy vegetables.  The American Diabetes Association recommends letting starchy foods make up a quarter of your plate during main meals.  Also consider healthier food preparation techniques to avoid the extra calories such as roasting, grilling or baking options.  For example, if you have the urge for some comforting french fries, try a delicious recipe for baked potato and load it up with some toppings such as light-cheese, sour cream, greek yogurt, chives, or olives.

Keep in mind that bread, rice, pasta, and pastry are also starchy foods so you may want to pair these foods with a non-starchy vegetable instead of starchy ones.  See our favorite varieties of starchy vegetables to choose from for a diabetes-friendly diet.

parsnip 2

The parsnip is a root vegetable closely related to the carrot and parsley.  Parsnips can be roasted into wedges, glazed, mashed and made into heart-warming soups.  A serving of one cup (133g) contains 24g of carbohydrates and 6g of sugar.


Plantains may be eaten while ripe or unripe and are generally starchy. They are often referred to as cooking bananas or green bananas.  One cup of sliced plantain, (148 g) contains 47g of total carbohydrate 22g of sugar. 


The potato is a starchy, tuberous crop from the perennial nightshade Solanum tuberosum. One medium potato, (213 g) contains 37g of total carbohydrate and 1.7g of sugar.


A pumpkin is a squash plant, most commonly of Cucurbita pepo, that is round, with smooth, slightly ribbed skin, and deep yellow to orange coloration.  One cup, (116 g) contains 8g of carbohydrate and 3.2g of sugar.

Acorn Squash

acorn squash

Acorn squash is also called pepper squash is a winter squash with distinctive longitudinal ridges on its exterior and sweet, yellow-orange flesh inside.  One cup of raw squash (140g) has 15g of carbohydrate and zero grams of sugar.

Butternut Squash
butternut squash

Butternut squash is a type of winter squash that grows on a vine. It has a sweet, nutty taste similar to that of a pumpkin.  One cup of raw butternut squash (140g) has 16 g of carbohydrate and 3.1g of sugar.

Green Peas
green peas

The pea is most commonly the small spherical seed or the seed-pod of the pod fruit Pisum sativum. Each pod contains several peas, which can be green or yellow.  One cup (145g) contains 21g of carbohydrate and 8 g of sugars.


Corn, also known as maize is a cereal grain first domesticated in southern Mexico about 10,000 years ago.  One cup of yellow corn (166g) contains 606 calories.  126 g of carbohydrate and 1.1g of sugar.

beet root

The beetroot is the taproot portion of the beet plant, usually known in North America as the beet, also table beet, garden beet, red beet, or golden beet.  One cup (136 g) contains 13g of carbohydate and 9g of sugar.


Cassava or Manihot esculenta is a woody shrub native to South America of the spurge family, Euphorbiaceae. It is extensively cultivated as an annual crop in tropical and subtropical regions for its edible starchy tuberous root, a major source of carbohydrates.  One cup (206g) contains 78g of carbohydrates and 3.5g of sugar.

Sweet Potato
sweet potato

The sweet potato belongs to the bindweed or morning glory family, Convolvulaceae. Its large, starchy, sweet-tasting, tuberous roots are a root vegetable. The young leaves and shoots are sometimes eaten as greens.  One cube or 133g contains 27g of carbohydrate and 6g of sugar.



  1. Joslin Diabetes Center.  “5 Common Food Myths for People with Diabetes Debunked.”  Accessed April 26, 2018.
  2. American Diabetes Association. “Grains and Starchy Vegetables,”  Accessed April 26, 2018.