Confused as to what veggies you’re allowed to eat?
One of the most common questions we get asked at IQS is whether sweet varieties of veg – like peas, corn and sweet potatoes – are okay to eat when you’re quitting sugar. Here’s everything you need to know.
We love veggies.
Let’s just get one thing clear, from smoothies to soups, we never say no to veggies! While The Australian Nutritional Guidelines advise we aim for at least 5 serves of vegetables a day, our stance is to incorporate as many as nine serves of veggies every single day!
“When we design the Meal Plans for our 8-Week Program, they start from a serve of three seasonal affordable vegetables at each meal,” founder and director, Sarah says.
“All vegetables are your friend. I even love dorky ones like swedes, endive and choko (super daggy but dirt cheap) and find fresh ways to use them.”
And while any veg is a good veg, Sarah does steer people towards picking lower-fructose options, adding, “If you want to up the ante, though, I recommend you eat leafy greens (the most nutritious option) over other greens and starchy vegetables.”
So what are higher fructose vegetables?
Tomatoes: As well as scientifically falling into the “fruit” category anyway, these contain about 1.5 teaspoons of sugar per tomato. So… while a few slices with your cheese toastie are fine, big bowls of concentrated tomato sauces – even the homemade kind – need to be approached with a little more caution.
Peas and corn: These do contain higher amounts of sugar than other vegetables, however, they’re also loaded with fibre making it unlikely that anyone could consume the quantities required to mess with their health. If you’ve ever known anyone to binge on bowlfuls of sweet peas, we’d love to meet them, otherwise feel comfortable including a handful in your favourite dish. When it comes to your daily sugar intake, you probably have bigger (sustainably caught) fish to fry anyway.
Sweet potatoes and carrots: As well as all the nutritional bits and pieces (sweet spuds are high in vitamin A, vitamin B5, B6, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin and carrots are loaded with betacarotene) both are also full of fibre, making them the perfect way to up your carb intake without resorting to refined grains. Note to self: carrot cake, though delicious, does not count as part of your RDI.
The takeaway: To maximise your vegetable intake, fine-tune your selection and go for green as much as possible, which tend to be the most nutrient-dense options.
Our top veggie tip: Go frozen.
Frozen veg are often nutritionally superior to fresh. Unlike the produce that’s been sitting on supermarket shelves for several days, frozen vegetables are often frozen immediately after harvest. In fact, water soluble vitamins like C and some of the B vitamins are lost in fresh produce the longer it hangs around. Green peas lose as much as 51% of their vitamin C content within 48 hours of picking.
What’s your favourite veg? Let us know in the comments below.
We originally published this post in September 2015. We updated it in July 2017.