2024-05-26

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Why Starchy Foods Should Be Included in Your Meal Plan?

8 min read

Starchy foods can be a healthy part of a balanced diet. Starchy foods are a good source of carbohydrates, which provide the body with energy. They are also a good source of dietary fiber, which is important for maintaining healthy digestion and bowel movements.

 

Examples of starchy foods include potatoes, rice, pasta, bread, cereals, and legumes like lentils, chickpeas, and beans.

 

It’s important to note that not all starchy foods are created equal. Some starchy foods, like whole-grain bread and brown rice, are more nutritious than refined or processed starchy foods, like white bread and white rice.

 

When choosing starchy foods, it’s best to opt for whole-grain options whenever possible, as they contain more fiber, vitamins, and minerals than their refined counterparts.

 

Starches and Sugars are a Source of Energy

Both starches and sugars are sources of energy in the human diet. Carbohydrates, including starches and sugars, are one of the three main macronutrients in food, along with protein and fat. When we eat carbohydrates, our body breaks them down into glucose, which can be used as a primary source of energy for our cells.

 

Starches are complex carbohydrates made up of many glucose units linked together in a chain, and they are found in foods like potatoes, rice, and bread. When we eat starchy foods, our body breaks down the starch into glucose, which is then used for energy.

Sugars, on the other hand, are simple carbohydrates that are already in their simplest form, and they are found naturally in fruits, vegetables, and milk, as well as added to many processed foods like sodas and candies. When we eat sugary foods, our body quickly converts them into glucose, which can be used for energy.

 

Fiber is also a Part of Starchy Foods

Fiber is also a part of some starchy foods. Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that the body cannot digest, and it’s found in plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, including some starchy foods.

It’s important to note that while starches and sugars can provide the body with energy, it’s important to consume them in moderation and choose healthier sources of carbohydrates, such as whole-grain starchy foods and fruits, which also provide important vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Additionally, excessive consumption of added sugars has been linked to various health problems, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.

 

Types of Starchy Food

 

Breakfast Cereals

Breakfast cereals are a type of starchy food that is commonly consumed as breakfast food. They are typically made from grains such as wheat, corn, oats, or rice, and are often fortified with vitamins and minerals.

 

There are many different types of breakfast cereals available, including hot cereals like oatmeal and cold cereals like cornflakes, wheat flakes, and granola. Some breakfast cereals are high in sugar and may contain added flavors and colors, while others are more nutritious and contain whole grains, nuts, and dried fruits.

 

 

Potatoes and different Starchy Vegetables

Potatoes are one of the most common starchy vegetables, but many other starchy vegetables are also nutritious and delicious. Some examples of starchy vegetables include:

 

Sweet Potatoes:

Sweet potatoes are a nutritious starchy vegetable that is high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They can be roasted, baked, mashed, or used in soups and stews.

 

Winter Squash:

Winter squash, such as butternut squash and acorn squash, are high in fiber and vitamin A. They can be roasted, baked, or used in soups and stews.

 

Corn:

Corn is a starchy vegetable that can be eaten fresh, roasted, or boiled. It can also be used to make cornmeal, corn flour, and polenta.

 

Peas:

Peas are starchy vegetable that is high in fiber, protein, and vitamins. They can be eaten fresh or cooked and are often used in soups, stews, and casseroles.

 

White Flour

White flour is a type of flour that is made from wheat grains that have been processed to remove the bran and germ, leaving only the endosperm. This process removes most of the fiber, vitamins, and minerals from the wheat, resulting in flour that is lower in nutrients than whole-grain flour.

 

White flour is commonly used in baking and is found in many products such as bread, pasta, cakes, and pastries. However, because it is low in fiber and nutrients, consuming large amounts of white flour products can contribute to a less healthy diet.

 

To make white flour, the wheat grains are first cleaned, then ground into a fine powder. The resulting flour is then bleached and refined to create a soft, white product that is commonly used in baking.

While white flour is a staple ingredient in many baked goods, it’s important to balance its consumption with other healthy foods, like fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain products. Whole-grain flour instead of white flour can provide more fiber, vitamins, and minerals and can help contribute to a more nutritious diet.

 

Rice

Rice is one of the most commonly consumed staple foods in the world, and it is also high in starch, particularly in its raw form. For example, 3.5 ounces of raw rice contains 80.4 grams of carbohydrates, of which 63.6% is starch. However, when rice is cooked, the starch content drops dramatically.

 

The reason for this is that when rice is cooked, the starch molecules absorb water and swell. This process is called gelatinization, and it breaks the bonds between starch molecules. As a result, 3.5 ounces of cooked rice only contain 28.7% starch because the cooked rice contains a lot more water.

It’s worth noting that while rice is high in starch, it is also a good source of carbohydrates, which are an important source of energy for the body. Different types of rice have different nutritional profiles. For example, brown rice is higher in fiber and nutrients than white rice because it is less processed and still contains the bran and germ of the rice grain.

 

Corn

Corn is a starchy vegetable that is widely consumed around the world. It is a good source of carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, making it a nutritious addition to a balanced diet.

 

Corn can be eaten fresh, cooked, or dried and ground into flour or a meal. It is used in a variety of dishes, including soups, stews, salads, and casseroles. Corn is also a common ingredient in processed foods such as tortilla chips, cornflakes, and corn syrup.

 

One of the benefits of corn is that it is high in dietary fiber, which can help promote digestive health and prevent constipation. Corn also contains antioxidants, including carotenoids and vitamin C, which can help protect the body against damage from free radicals.

 

However, it’s worth noting that some corn products, particularly those that are highly processed or contain added sugars, may not be as healthy as fresh or minimally processed corn.

 

Almonds

Almonds are a type of tree nut that is rich in nutrients and can be a healthy addition to a balanced diet. They are a good source of protein, healthy fats, fiber, vitamin E, magnesium, and other important nutrients.

 

Eating almonds has been linked to several health benefits, including improved heart health, lower cholesterol levels, and reduced risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. Almonds may also help with weight management, as they are high in protein and fiber and can help promote feelings of fullness and satiety.

 

It’s important to note that while almonds are nutrient-dense and can be a healthy snack, they are also high in calories, so it’s important to consume them in moderation. Additionally, some people may have an allergy or intolerance to nuts, so it’s important to be mindful of any potential reactions.

 

Bread

Bread, particularly wholemeal, granary, brown, and seeded varieties, can be a healthy choice to eat as part of a balanced diet. Wholegrain, wholemeal, and brown bread provide us with energy and contain B vitamins, vitamin E, fiber, and a wide range of minerals.

 

White bread also contains various vitamins and minerals, but it has less fiber than wholegrain, wholemeal, or brown bread. If you prefer white bread, look for higher-fiber options. Some people avoid bread because they are concerned about having a food intolerance or allergy to wheat, or they think bread is fattening.

However, cutting any type of food from your diet could mean you miss out on various nutrients that you need to stay healthy.

 

It’s worth noting that some types of bread, particularly those that are highly processed or contain added sugars or fats, may not be as healthy as others.

 

What happens when we eat starchy foods?

When we consume starchy foods, our digestive system breaks down the starch they contain into glucose. The glucose is then absorbed into the blood and insulin, the important hormone that regulates our blood sugar is released. Insulin helps the glucose in our blood enter our cells to be used for energy or stored. This allows us to maintain stable glucose levels in the blood and ensure we have a constant supply of glucose in the body.

 

However, in people with diabetes, this process doesn’t work properly. Either the body can’t produce enough insulin or can’t effectively use the insulin it makes, leading to high levels of glucose in the blood. This can cause a range of health problems if left uncontrolled, including damage to the eyes, kidneys, nerves, and blood vessels.

 

Why You Should Avoid Starch

Starches are a type of complex carbohydrate, which means that they are made up of multiple sugar molecules linked together. While complex carbohydrates are generally considered a healthier option than simple carbohydrates like syrup or honey, there are several reasons why one might want to reduce their overall starch intake. These include:

 

Reduced Stress

Consuming high-starch meals can often leave one feeling full or lethargic due to the bulkiness of these foods. A study has found that individuals who consumed fewer starchy carbohydrates reported significant improvements in their reported fatigue, emotional well-being, and food cravings.

 

Diabetes Control

Starchy foods are broken down into glucose during digestion, which can cause a spike in blood sugar levels if not properly managed. Therefore, individuals with diabetes need to monitor their starch intake and incorporate starchy foods into their diet in moderation.

This can be done through portion control, choosing lower-starch options, and pairing starchy foods with sources of protein and fiber to help slow down the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream.

 

Improve Blood Pressure

Reducing starch intake may also be beneficial for individuals looking to improve their blood pressure. High-starch diets have been associated with higher blood pressure levels, as starches can cause the body to retain more water and sodium, leading to an increase in blood pressure.

Studies have shown that reducing starch intake and increasing the intake of fruits, vegetables, and lean protein can lead to improvements in blood pressure levels. Consuming more fiber-rich foods can also help lower blood pressure by improving overall cardiovascular health.

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