Are starchy vegetables fattening?

Are starchy vegetables fattening?

Believe it or not, there’s a ton of confusion out there about vegetables, particularly the starchy ones. Are some of them more “fattening” than others? Should they be avoided? Let’s take a look.

Vegetables are usually classified as fibrous (broccoli, spinach) or starchy (potatoes, corn). There’s no question about the fibrous kind—they’re basically a “free food”, even on the strictest of low-carb plans like Atkins stage 1, or my own Metabolic Factor.

But what about the others? After all, corn is a vegetable, right? How bad can it be?

The short answer is this: If you’re a person for whom blood sugar management is a real issue—and there are plenty of us out there, believe me—then it might be a good idea to limit certain vegetables and legumes, like, for example, potatoes, beets and peas. (I never thought there was much to recommend potatoes anyway, so no big loss there, but sweet potatoes have a bunch of good things in them, yet suffer from the same “starch” problem as their anemic relatives.)

But over all, I think the argument about vegetables and sugar is a bit of a tempest in a teapot.

There are two real culprits in the obesity crisis: one, fast-acting carbs and sugars in breads, cereals, pastas, desserts, cakes, rolls, crackers and fast food. And two, the obscenely large portions of everything in general. (I recently attended my nephew’s 12th birthday party at a well-known Mexican restaurant in Los Angeles. I ordered a burrito. This is what came. Seriously.)

And this is the “new normal”.

So of course, you should watch your sugar intake and do your best to eat less sugar, starch and fake food. But with the exception of potatoes and corn and maybe beets, most vegetables don’t have much sugar, and even the sugar in corn and potatoes doesn’t amount to all that much when you compare it to, for example, this:

I wouldn’t make a big deal of avoiding any vegetable, although I try to eat as little corn as possible since (unless it’s labeled organic) it’s all GMO, and I think white potatoes are pretty much a nutritional wasteland (not that I won’t occasionally indulge in a nice baked potato).

But let’s choose our nutritional battles. As an old teacher of mine—the brilliant nutritionist and United States Department of Agriculture researcher C. Leigh Broadhurst, PhD– once said…

“No one ever got fat on peas and carrots”.




  1. Andrew

    I think potatoes get an understandably (but undeserved) bad reputation because they’re consumed in the Standard American Diet. They’re actually pretty darn nutrient-dense, especially if cooked and cooled for resistant starch! Nothing wrong with a properly cooked potato in my opinion. Fried in vegetable oil? No thanks.

  2. kat kerr

    Siir, you state in your article “…….eat as little corn as possible since (unless it’s labeled organic) it’s all GMO”. I have wondered about this statement thinking that GMO’d seeds …… can also be grown “organically”. In other words, being grown “organically” does not make a seed NON-GMO’d. Because my research shows me that only some POPcorn is not GMO’d ….. I would say that corn seeds are pretty much totally corrupted with genetic modification and no corn (but possibly popcorn) should be eaten….period. Thank you for your easy-to-read writing style and easy-to-understand information.