Bread, rice, potatoes, pasta and other starchy foods
Most of us should eat more foods from this group!
- Starchy foods are an important source of calories in our diet. Although it's often suggested that starchy foods are fattening, each gram of carbohydrate provides less than half as many calories as a gram of fat.
- Approximately one third of our total daily food intake should be from these foods.
- Try to include them at every meal by basing your meals on starchy foods such as potatoes, breads, pasta, rice, noodles or cereals (more examples below).
- Choose high fibre or wholegrain varieties as much as possible as these usually contain more fibre, vitamins and minerals than refined versions. Why not try a baked potato with skin on, wholegrain breakfast cereal, wholemeal bread, wholewheat couscous or try wholewheat spaghetti with your bolognese?
- Rice, pasta, noodles, couscous, bulgur wheat, millet, sorghum, quinoa, cornmeal, oats, barley and rye
- Bread and bread products including rolls, pitta, focaccia, chapatis, bagels, baguette, ciabatta, pizza base, roti and tortillas
- Potatoes and potato products (including baked, boiled and mashed potatoes, oven chips and potato gnocchi).
- Yams, cassava and plantain
- But, other root vegetables like sweet potatoes, parsnips and turnips count as vegetables
Starchy foods and fibre
Starchy foods, especially wholegrains, and potatoes with the skins on provide fibre. There are two types of fibre:
- Partially fermentable (insoluble) fibre which passes through the gut intact and helps to increase stool bulk (wholegrains and potatoes with skin are a good source).
- Completely fermentable (soluble) fibre which is fermented by bacteria in the large intestine and may help to lower blood cholesterol (found in oats for example).
Data from the NDNS Survey, which looks at food consumption patterns in the UK, has highlighted that we need to eat more fibre. It is recommended we eat 18 g of dietary fibre each day. On average, in the UK, adults consume only 12.8g (women) to 14.7g (men) per day. Some suggested ways to increase our intakes of starchy foods are listed below.
Increasing your intake of starchy foods
- Try to base each of your meals on starchy foods and where possible choose wholegrains.
- For breakfast why not try a wholegrain breakfast cereal, porridge, wholemeal toast, or pancakes.
- For lunch, try sandwiches, pasta or rice salads, soup and a roll, or a baked potato with a low fat filling such as beans.
- For dinner why not have your spaghetti bolognese with wholewheat pasta, or serve stir fries, stews or curries with brown rice.
- Experiment with potatoes, - try skin on potato wedges oven-baked with spices, sprinkle chopped, fresh herbs onto boiled new potatoes or use mashed or sliced potatoes as a topping for pies instead of pastry.
- Try recipes with different types of starchy food such as couscous, bulgur wheat, barley, rye and quinoa.
BNF have developed a resource that can be downloaded, see attachment below.
For more information on the sources used in this text, please contact
Last reviewed May 2014. Next review due May 2017.
- © British Nutrition Foundation 2014