For Good Measure

Eat Your Vegetables

March 9, 2020

Plant-based meals are on trend right now.  We’re seeing fresh vibrant salads and mouth-watering caramelized root vegetables popping up everywhere from the grocery store to social media. The culinary world is screaming “Eat your vegetables!”

Though as we know, every trend carries a caveat. Sadly, this year’s is no exception. I hate to admit, but all vegetables are NOT the same. Outside of the obvious taste, color and texture, there is the complex subject of nutrition value. For the purpose of this article, I’m going to focus on what impacts our every meal – CARBOHYDRATES.

Let’s back up a little, starting with TOTAL versus NET carbs. Food contains different types of carbohydrates. Simply, they are digested differently by every body, person to person, but for simplicity we won’t go there. We’re going to appeal to the majority, even if you are lucky enough to devour an entire potato without a blood sugar spike.

TOTAL carbohydrates are just what the name implies: the total number of carbohydrates in a food including starch, fiber and sugar.

So what are NET carbohydrates? A NET calculation includes only the carbohydrates the body can fully digest into glucose. For example, the body cannot fully digest fiber. To calculate the net carbs, we SUBTRACT the grams of fiber from the total carbohydrates resulting in a NET carbohydrates number.

Back to vegetables. There are two major categories. Above ground and below.

Above ground vegetables include edible leaves {lettuce, spinach, kale, bok choy}, flowers {broccoli, artichoke, cauliflower}, stalks {celery, asparagus, chard, fennel} & fruit { tomato, squash, eggplant, cucumber}.

Root vegetables grow underground at the base of the plant: bulbs {onion, garlic, shallot}, roots {carrot, radish, turnip, beet} & tubers { potato, jicama, turnip}. They absorb water and nutrients to feed the plant. So while they are nutritional powerhouses, low in calories, and high in antioxidants, they can also carry a heavy carb load.

It is a majority rule that if a vegetable grows above ground it has a lower carb-load. However, there are always exceptions.  Those vegan sweet potato fries … it goes without saying, they may not be your blood sugar’s best friend.


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