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Starch Group

What foods are included?

Grains, starchy vegetables, and dry beans and peas make up this food group. What do the Starch Group foods have in common? They consist mainly of carbohydrate.

Grains include wheat, oats, rye, barley, and corn meal as well as the foods made from them: bread, cereal, rice, pasta, tortillas, and crackers. Starchy vegetables -- which contain three times as much carbohydrate as non-starchy vegetables -- include potatoes, green peas, corn, and squash. Kidney beans, pinto beans, lima beans, black-eyed peas, and lentils are examples of dry beans and peas.

How much should I eat?

starches cover 1/4 of the plateThe Healthy Diabetes Plate recommends eating three servings from the starch group each day—one serving at each meal. This serving will cover a quarter of your 9-inch plate, no more than 1/2 inch high.

For grains, one serving is the equivalent of 1 ounce. That's about:

  • one slice of bread
  • 1 cup of ready-to-eat cereal flakes
  • a half of one hamburger bun
  • 1/2 cup of cooked cereal, rice, or pasta

4-inch square slice of bread

1 cup of cereal flakes

1/2 cup of cooked rice

For starchy vegetables, one serving equals 1/2 cup or one small- or medium-sized piece:

a small (3-inch)
baked potato

1/2 cup of green peas

a medium-sized

For dry beans and peas, one serving equals 1/2 cup of cooked beans and peas:

1/2 cup of cooked
kidney beans

1/2 cup of cooked black beans


which foods should I choose?

Grains are classified as either whole grains or refined grains. Whole grains—such as whole-wheat bread, brown rice, and oatmeal—contain the entire grain kernel, including the bran, endosperm, and germ. In refined grains—such as white flour, white rice, and corn flakes—the bran and germ have been removed, decreasing the nutritional value of these products. If you have diabetes, you should choose whole grains because they help maintain normal blood sugar levels. For examples of grain foods, view printable tables of whole grains and refined grains.

When selecting starchy vegetables, choose items from each of the five color groups: blue/purple, green, white/tan/brown, yellow/orange, and red. Consult a printable table of starchy vegetables by color group.

Finally, pick your favorite dry beans and peas from this table.

What's in it for my health?

Grains—especially whole grains—include:

  • fiber
  • B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and folate)
  • minerals (iron, selenium, and magnesium)

Starchy vegetables offer:

  • fiber
  • vitamins (vitamin A, vitamin C, and folate)
  • minerals (potassium)

Dry beans and peas contribute:

  • fiber
  • protein
  • vitamins (vitamin B6, thiamin, and folic acid)
  • minerals (potassium, magnesium, and iron)

Consuming foods in this food group helps prevent cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and cancer.

Cooking tip #1!
Grains: Instead of using all white flour in a recipe, substitute whole-wheat flour for one-quarter or one-half of it.

Cooking tip #2!

Starchy Vegetables: Choose a yellow-fleshed potato like Yukon Gold when making mashed potatoes. Because they provide a buttery color and taste, you can use less margarine.

Cooking tip #3!
Dry Beans and Peas: If you don't have time to cook dry beans and peas, use canned ones. To reduce the sodium content of canned products, be sure to drain and rinse them.

Shopping tips!
Watch this video for some tips when shopping for starches.





  • "I learned why corn is in the starch group and not in the vegetable group"
    - A Healthy Diabetes Plate class participant