Carb-Rich Vegetables for Good Health


A plate of food with broccoli

There has been a lot of negativity surrounding carbs in recent decades. However, they are one of the main nutrients that the body needs, along with protein and fats. Carbs are essential not only to survive and function properly but to thrive.

Although refined carbs are processed and generally offer little to no nutritional value, unprocessed and whole food sources of carbohydrate are usually nutritious and can be very healthful.

Both starchy and non-starchy vegetables contain carbohydrates. However, starchy vegetables are higher in total carbohydrate content, in comparison to non-starchy vegetables.” Don’t fret! This doesn’t make them any less healthy by comparison. “It’s important to note that starchy vegetables provide energy and nutrients (vitamins, minerals, and fiber). [They] can be a part of a healthy, balanced diet,” Feller assures.

Now that we know what separates these vegetables from the rest of the pack, let’s get specific. The most common high-carb vegetables are potatoes, peas, corn, and squash. Here’s a quick breakdown. Note: These amounts are all for one cup servings unless otherwise specified.

  • Cubed potatoes: 26 grams of carbohydrates
  • One large potato: 57 grams of carbohydrates
  • Corn: 27 grams of carbohydrates
  • Peas: 21 grams of carbohydrates
  • Squash: 14 grams of carbohydrates

1. Sweet potatoes

A piece of bread on a cutting board

Sweet potatoes are a delicious favorite to include in a range of meals. One medium, baked sweet potato with the skin on has 23.61 grams of carbohydrates. Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of potassium and vitamins A and C. A 2015 study found that some of the carbohydrate molecules in purple sweet potato may also have antioxidant and antitumor benefits.

2. Beets

An apple sitting on top of a wooden cutting board

Beetroots, or beets, are a sweet, purple root vegetable that people can eat either raw or cooked. One cup of raw beets has 13 g of carbs. Beets are rich in potassium, calcium, folate, and vitamin A. They also provide people with naturally occurring inorganic nitrates that can benefit heart health.

3. Corn

Unprocessed carbohydrates are generally healthful. Corn is a popular vegetable that people can enjoy year-round as a side dish, on the cob, or in a salad. A measure of 100  of corn contains 25 g of carbohydrates and 3.36 g of protein. It also provides a good amount of vitamin C. According to a 2007 study, corn is beneficial for blood sugar levels and high blood pressure.

Other high-carbohydrate veggies worth mentioning are lima beans (24 grams per cup), artichokes (24 grams per cup), and black-eyed peas (26 grams per cup). While you may be tempted to blacklist these from future grocery lists, don’t. To compare, a cup of rice has around 40 grams of carbs. A cup of beans has around 35 grams of carbs. “These vegetables can play a role in a healthy diet,” says Jonathan Valdez, MBA, RDN, CSG, CDN, ACE-CPT, and owner and founder of Genki Nutrition. “Not only that, but the body needs carbohydrates as it is the primary source of energy for the brain, blood cells, and muscles.” If you’re active and like to exercise often, the need for carbs increases. That’s not to say that these veggies are a free-for-all. But certainly don’t nix them from your diet altogether.

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