Potato Power – Why you should eat more potatoes!
The humble potato – a vegetable that pretty much all of us grew up eating. Whether it is mashed, baked, boiled or sautéed, the potato is a staple around the globe. But somewhere along the way, the poor old reliable potato got a bad rap.
Concern over High Glycemic Index Foods
Potatoes contain a large amount of starch that can raise your glycemic index (GI). The GI is a measure of how quickly a food converts to glucose. When foods convert quicky to glucose, they cause a spike in insulin levels, which increases the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
However, the problem with the GI is that it is calculated based on eating a food in isolation, which we rarely do. What is more relevant is what happens when you eat potatoes with other foods. By adding some healthy fat or protein, keeping the skins on, or eating another fibre-rich food, the GI is significantly lowered. Cooking and cooling your potatoes also reduces the GI. Sorry guys – unfortunately French fries and chips do not have the same effect!
Health Benefits of the Potato
- High-amount of antioxidants. Antioxidants help reduce the damage done to your cells by free radicals. Brightly coloured potatoes, such as purple, contain higher levels of disease-fighting antioxidants than white potatoes.
- Contains resistant starch. Resistant starch is a type of fibre that is not digested by the small intestine. This means it reaches your large intestine where it feeds your beneficial bacteria.
- Excellent source of vitamins and minerals. Potatoes have more potassium than bananas and a high amount of vitamin C. They are one of the most abundant sources of B-vitamins, especially vitamin B6, thiamin, niacin, pantothenic acid, and folate. They a great source of minerals including manganese, phosphorus, copper, potassium, magnesium, and iron.
- There are many different kinds. There are over 1500–2,000 different varieties of potatoes that range in color, size, and nutrient content. Remember that increasing variety in your diet greatly benefits your health!
- Potatoes are one of the most filling foods. A little goes a long way so you will not end up eating too much of other things to feel satisfied.
Concerns Over Potatoes
Like anything, potatoes should be eaten in moderation and it goes without saying that processed potato foods are not good for you!
Potatoes are part of the nightshade family of plants which also includes tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and more. Some people find foods in this family cause irritation in their body. This may present itself differently in different people. An elimination diet or gut reset is a great way to see of potatoes are a problem. Never assume that you have an allergy or sensitivity to a food without testing it! You don’t want to lose that variety if you don’t have to.
Raw Potato Starch
Raw potato starch is the newest supplement to hit the market. It isn’t actually that new though. Potato starch has been used to thicken sauces, soups, and stews for years. It is easy to add into things since it is very neutral tasting.
Note: When purchasing potato starch be sure to make sure that you are not actually buying potato flour!
Raw potato starch doesn’t break down to glucose so it is suitable for paleo and ketogenic diets. As a resistant starch it feeds your good bacteria and help stabalize your blood sugar.
Of course, real food works even since it comes with vitamins, minerals, and polyphenols.
Potatoes have been a staple around the world for good reason – they are nutrient dense, tasty, and filling. Don’t be afraid to incorporate potatoes into your diet 1-3 times per week. Try different varieties including red and purple to optimize the health benefits.