Paleo AIP + GAPS Starchy Vegetable List

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a pile of beets, turnips, celeriac, and carrots

“While there’s no question Paleo is a great starting place, the key to making it successful over the long term is personalizing it to meet your unique needs and goals.”
~ Chris Kresser


WHY THIS LIST?

Many of you know that I came to the paleo autoimmune community through the GAPS doorway. The GAPS Diet is designed to heal the gut and therefore heal the body. One of the tenets of the GAPS diet is that starch can feed pathogenic bacteria, so a low-starch diet can shift the gut microbiome toward health. I followed the GAPS Diet for 5 months, and when I plateaued in my healing I added the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol (AIP). This combination worked well for me, but it’s not a good idea to follow multiple restrictive diets long-term, because that can result in nutrient deficiencies. First, I went through the AIP reintroduction process and expanded my diet with some successful reintroductions. Then, I went through a starch reintroduction process and discovered that I do feel best on a low to moderate starch diet. However, we’re all unique. Just because I do well with less starch doesn’t mean everyone does. In fact, my friend Jaime from Gutsy By Nature and Mickey from Autoimmune Wellness both discovered they do better with higher amounts of starch. And others, like Charles Comey, do best with no starch at all. So, this is an area where people can experiment and personalize their healing diet accordingly. Over the years, when people read my article, The Great Starch Experiment, they have asked me for this list. I finally compiled it! In the tables below, I’ve listed the vegetables in order from low-starch to high-starch, so you can test both ends of the spectrum to see which level works best for you.

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GAPS + AIP ALLOWED STARCHES

VEGETABLE CARBS
Per 100 grams
STARCH
Per 100 grams
SUGAR
Per 100 grams
FIBER
Per 100 grams
Turnips 5 .1 3 1.9
Carrots 8.2 .2 4.5 3.5
Beets 10 .5 7.5 2
Rutabagas 8.7 .9 6 1.8
Hubbard Squash 10.8 1 4.9 4.9
Celeriac/Celery Root 5.9 1.1 3.6 1.2
Spaghetti Squash 6.5 2.6 2.5 1.4
Delicata Squash 9 2.7 3.4 2.9
Pumpkin 4.9 2.8 1 1.1
Winter Squash (average of all varieties) 8.9 2.8 3.3 2.8
Kabocha Squash 8.2 3.5 3.5 1.2
Butternut Squash 10.5 5.3 3.2 2
Acorn Squash 8.8 6.2 0 2.6

 

AIP-ONLY STARCHES (Not GAPS-Compliant)

VEGETABLE CARBS
Per 100 grams
STARCH
Per 100 grams
SUGAR
Per 100 grams
FIBER
Per 100 grams
Jicama 8.8 2.1 1.8 4.9
Jerusalem Artichokes/Sunchokes 17.4 6.2 9.6 1.6
Parsnips 17 8.2 4.8 4
Salsify 15.4 9.4 2.9 3.1
Sweet Potatoes 17.7 9.5 5.7 2.5
Lotus Root 16 12.5 .5 3
Plantains 31.2 14.9 14 2.3
Yam 27.5 23.1 .5 3.9
Taro 34.6 29 .5 5.1
Tigernuts (a starchy tuber) 67.5 32.5 17.5 17.5
Cassava/Yuca 38.2 34.7 1.7 1.8

 

GAPS-ONLY STARCHES (Not Elimination Phase AIP. Test During Reintroductions)

VEGETABLE CARBS
Per 100 grams
STARCH
Per 100 grams
SUGAR
Per 100 grams
FIBER
Per 100 grams
Green Beans 7.9 1.1 3.6 3.2
Green Peas 15.6 4.2 5.9 5.5

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

1. Jicama and Jerusalem Artichokes are both low in starch. Why are they excluded from the GAPS diet?

They’re both high in inulin fiber, which is another food category that’s eliminated during the GAPS diet due to its potential to feed pathogenic bacteria. The GAPS recommendation is to wait until your gut has healed and then test these foods during reintroductions.

2. What about flours? 

When you’re on a healing diet, it’s best to prioritize whole foods over flours, and it’s easy to overdo when it comes to baking. That said, part of making a diet sustainable is making it enjoyable, so it’s natural to want to do some baking once in a while. Coconut flour is the only flour allowed on both diets. Most of the AIP flours are high starch, such as arrowroot, cassava, plantain, sweet potato, tapioca, and tigernut flours. None of those are allowed on the GAPS diet. Similarly, the GAPS diet prioritizes nut flours that aren’t allowed on the AIP.

3. What are non-starchy vegetables?

The vast majority of vegetables don’t contain starch at all, or only in trace amounts. Here’s a list of non-starchy vegetables allowed on both the AIP & GAPS diets: artichoke, arugula, asparagus, avocado, bok choy, broccoli, broccolini, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, chard, collards, cucumber, daikon, endive, fennel, garlic, ginger, greens, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, mustard greens, olives (pimento-free), onions, radicchio, radish, rapini, scallions, seaweed, spinach, summer squash, and zucchini.

4. How did you find the data for the tables? 

I used two websites as my primary sources: Cronometer and SELF Nutrition Data. When there was both a cooked and raw listing for the vegetable, I chose cooked. And from there did the math according to this starch formula. However, when it comes to fresh produce, things like weather, storage, and level of ripeness can affect these numbers slightly. That’s part of nature’s design. However, this table does accurately show which vegetables are the highest vs. lowest starch. Don’t sweat the exact numbers too much.

5. What is 100 grams in cups? 

It depends on the vegetable, but generally it’s between 1/2 and 3/4 cup, cooked.

6. Should everyone eat a low-starch diet?

Not at all! As I said in the introduction to this article, everyone is unique when it comes to dietary needs. This table can be used to conduct your own starch experiment. There is no superiority in a low-starch vs. high-starch diet. It’s just a matter of finding what works best for you.

7. Can starch tolerance change over time?

Absolutely. Many things impact digestion and food tolerance. The more our gut heals, our inflammation reduces, and our immune system calms and balances, the more variety of foods our bodies will be able to digest, absorb, and enjoy. For example, while I still don’t benefit from a high-starch diet, I can tolerate more starch now than I could 7 years ago. I also find that digestive enzymes improve my starch tolerance as well. My goal is always to expand my diet in healthy ways, and I appreciate the extra food freedom that gives me. Both the AIP and the GAPS diet include reintroduction phases for this reason. The strictest parts of these diets are designed to be temporary.

RESOURCES

Credit: image at top of page purchased from iStock.

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