Are Potatoes the Enemy?
You may have heard many say that potatoes are bad for you, but is that really true? After all, it is a vegetable, how can it be bad. Potatoes tend to be very controversial so in this blog and I going to provide some information that will help you to decide whether potatoes are YOUR enemy.
All potatoes are carbohydrate rich and are very popular and American eat over 120 pounds annually. They are in the category of comfort foods and are eaten in a variety of ways, mashed, baked, steamed, roasted, broiled, fried, etc. In the U.S. potatoes in the form of French fries are the most popular option.
Three reasons why potatoes are often condemned
They are high in carbohydrates and do not support weight loss
They digest quickly and have a high glycemic load (GL) meaning they cause your blood sugar and insulin levels to spike and then fall. GL is the rate at which carbohydrates are formed converted to glucose and released into your bloodstream.
Potatoes in their processed form like French fries or potato chips are not healthy
Who should eat potatoes?
In general, potatoes can be a healthy option for most people depending on how they are prepared and the types of garnish they are eaten with. I will go into more details on preparation below. However, if you are overweight, a pre-diabetic or have been diagnosed with diabetes, nutritional experts and healthcare professionals recommend limiting the consumption of all potatoes. According to researchers, potatoes do not support weight loss and there is a strong link between potato consumption and in increased risks of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Types of potatoes & benefits
Potatoes are all carbohydrate rich, however not all potatoes are created equally. There are more than 200 types of potatoes that are sold in the U.S. The different types of potatoes have different nutritional make up, but they all have certain health benefits:
They are high in antioxidants and contain carotenoids, which helps to protect against chronic disease and inflammation.
They help with digestion and contains resistant starch, which is a kind of starch that is not broken down by the small intestine, it goes to the large intestine and provides beneficial bacteria to your body, which helps to protect against colon cancer and reduces inflammation in the colon.
Contains minerals, iron, phosphorous, calcium, magnesium and zinc which is vital for building bone structure and maintaining strength. Most of these micro nutrients are found in the skin.
Here are some of the most popular potatoes.
Sweet potatoes – it surprised me to learn that sweet potatoes are not in the potato family. They have fewer carbs and calories that white, russet or yellow potatoes. They are rich in vitamins A, C, B6, B5, potassium, and manganese and contain other nutrients with anti-cancer, anti-diabetic and anti-inflammatory benefits. They stand out above all other potatoes in terms of nutritional content and GL.
Purple and blue potatoes – studies have found that purple potatoes increase antioxidant capacity in the bloodstream, decrease DNA damage and inflammation in men, lower the risk of heart disease and stroke in patients with hypertension. Lower in GL than white or russet potatoes.
Red potatoes - they are packed with antioxidants and other nutrients. According to studies these types have two to three times more antioxidant potential than white potatoes. Their red pigment contain anthocyanins, which has shown to improve visual and neurological health, protect against certain diseases and lower bad cholesterol.
Russet & White potatoes – tends to trail behind the other types of potatoes in terms of carbs and GL levels. If you have an option, choose sweet potatoes or brightly colored ones.
Yellow (Yukon) potatoes – these are a cross between a North American white potato and a wild, yellow South American potato. They have a similar nutritional profile to white and russets potatoes.
It should be noted that potatoes are on the Environmental Working Group’s “dirty dozen” list of the moist contaminated food. Organic options are the best.
Healthiest way to prepare potatoes
Best when eaten with the skin on.
Baking, boiling and steaming potatoes are the best choices in terms of minimizing their fat and calorie contents, compared to frying.
Choose whole potatoes in place of processed potato such as French fries or potato chips to reduce fat, calorie and sodium contents.
Choosing healthy toppings and garnishes such as beans, avocado, olive oil, salsa, nutritional yeast to boost the protein and nutrients or vegetarian chili.