A woman’s body is an intricate machine that requires a specific set of nutrients in order to function. The calories you consume each day come from the three types of macronutrients known as carbohydrates, fat and protein. Carbohydrates should account for 45 to 65 percent of those calories, according to The Institute of Medicine. Starch and fiber, two types of carbohydrates, can be found in all five of the food groups.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture categorizes foods into five different food groups based on their nutritional content. These groups include protein, dairy, grains, fruits and vegetables. Because starch and fiber are constituents of plants, only foods derived from plants contain them. This makes it obvious that the vegetable, fruit and grain groups contain starch and fiber. The protein and dairy food groups contain less obvious sources of these two types of carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates consist of carbon, oxygen and hydrogen molecules. The way these molecules come together determines the type of carbohydrate. Starch, also referred to as complex carbohydrate, consists of chains of simple sugar molecules joined end to end. Vegetables such as potatoes, squash and corn contain starch. Fruits with starch include bananas and plantains. Grains like wheat, rice and barley also contain starch. The protein food group includes foods rich in plant proteins, like pinto beans, black beans, dried peas, cashew nuts, chestnuts and sunflower seeds that contain starch.
Fiber is the part of a plant that the enzymes in your digestive tract cannot break down. The U.S Department of Agriculture Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 suggests that adults consume 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories consumed. For women, this works out to about 25 grams per day. Whole-grain foods that contain the bran, germ and endosperm of the grain, such as brown rice, are high in fiber. Fruits, such as apples and raspberries, vegetables such as artichokes and broccoli, plant proteins such as split peas and black beans all serve as excellent sources of fiber.
The Dairy Surprise
It may surprise you to learn that the dairy group does include one food that contains starch and fiber. The USDA defines the dairy group as any item made from milk that retains the calcium content. Milk comes from an animal, which means it does not contain starch or fiber. However, according to ChooseMyPlate.gov, the dairy group also includes calcium-fortified soy milk. Soy milk is made from soybeans, which contain both starch and fiber. A scientific experiment presented in the "Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education" shows the resulting “milk” retains some of the starch.
- United States Department of Agriculture: Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010
- United States Department of Agriculture: ChooseMyPlate.gov
- Institute of Medicine: Dietary Reference Intakes – Macronutrients
- Department of Health and Human Services: Choose Carbohydrates Wisely
- Mayo Clinic: Dietary Fiber
- Silk Soy Milk: Nutrition Content
- Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education: A Biology Laboratory Exercise Using Macromolecular Assay to Distinguish Four Types of Milk
- Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images