Scientists from the University of Washington found that starchy vegetables deliver nutritional value comparable to that of non-starchy vegetables and whole fruit.
The research is published in Frontiers in Nutrition and was conducted by Adam Drewnowski et al.
Whole grains, legumes, non-starchy vegetables, and fresh fruit are typically considered to be higher quality carbohydrate foods.
But starchy vegetables, including white potatoes, are typically categorized in nutrition studies with sweets, candy, and soda.
In the study, the team used five separate indices to assess carbohydrate quality to determine if this categorization of starchy vegetables is an accurate reflection of the foods’ nutritional value.
They screened more than 2,400 carbohydrate-containing foods for carbohydrate quality.
Recognizing that carbohydrates are present in a great variety of plant-based foods, the study expanded the range of food groups to include refined and whole grains, snacks, and sweets, but also starchy and non-starchy vegetables, legumes, and whole fruit.
Starchy vegetables had not been tested before using the new carbohydrate quality metrics.
The team found nearly half of the 210 starchy vegetable foods analyzed in the study met the definitions for high-quality carbohydrates, which were defined as those with evidence-based cut-off values for fiber and free sugar.
Meanwhile, extremely few snacks and sweets, candy and desserts, and refined grain foods could be considered high-quality carbs.
When considering foods’ potassium and sodium content, the team found starchy vegetables scored most closely to non-starchy vegetables and fruit versus sweets and soda.
These findings suggest all vegetables should remain together when it comes to both research and dietary guidance.
The team says further research to build upon these models, however, should continue to incorporate other vitamins and minerals in food quality assessments.
Nonetheless, this study aligns with a broader, evolving body of literature showcasing the multi-dimensionality of carbohydrate foods and their role in human health.
If you care about nutrition, please read studies that vitamin D can be cheap treatments for COVID-19, and vitamin K may help cut heart disease risk by a third.
For more information about nutrition, please see recent studies about food that could lead to better cognition in older people, and results showing this common food oil in the U.S. can change genes in the brain.
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