The Great Potato Controversy
There are several foods that cause a lot of controversy regarding their overall healthiness. One of these foods is the potato. If you Google “Are Potatoes Good for You?” you’ll find plenty of articles arguing each side of the issue, all citing studies in defense of their perspective.
Larissa and I believe moderation is key in most things, so in today’s episode of the podcast we won’t address the “great potato controversy.” Instead we’ll just talk about some of the known benefits of incorporating potatoes into your diet.
Potatoes Get a Bad Rap
Potatoes are called root vegetables (or tubers) because they grow underground.
Many of the recent trendy diets such as Atkins, South Beach, and Keto discourage eating potatoes, citing the potential for weight gain from their high carbohydrate content. Also, due to their high Glycemic Index load, they are thought to be bad for people with diabetes. This is particularly true of white potatoes.
From American Diabetes Association Website:
Question: “If you have diabetes, do you have to only eat small amounts of starchy foods, such as bread, potatoes and pasta?”
ADA Response: “Starchy foods can be part of a healthy meal plan, but portion size is key. Breads, cereals, pasta, rice (whole grain options are better), and starchy vegetables like potatoes, yams, peas, and corn can be included in your meals and snacks.”
5 Health Benefits of Potatoes
- Low in calories. Of course we aren’t talking about potato chips or loaded potato skins here! Plain potatoes are naturally low in calories; it’s when we pile on high fat ingredients or cook them in unhealthy ways that the calories add up. They are naturally fat-free, gluten-free, and cholesterol-free, so the next time you’re tempted to fry your potatoes in oil, opt for boiling instead to help keep your spuds low-cal.
- Potatoes are rich in nutrients. They are a good source of iron, Vitamin C, five out of the eight B Vitamins (the highest being B6), manganese, zinc, niacin, folate, and fiber. Additionally, they contain antioxidants such as carotenoids, phenolic acids, and flavonoids which help zap disease-causing free radicals in the body.
- Skin health. The B vitamins, zinc, and magnesium found in potatoes play important roles in keeping skin healthy. While eating potatoes can help your skin from the inside out, potatoes can be applied topically as well in the form of paste or juice to help mitigate skin conditions such as hyperpigmentation and acne.
- Potatoes are rich in potassium. Potassium is important to a healthy heart because it helps manage high blood pressure and heart disease. White potatoes have 941 mgs of potassium and sweet potatoes have 542. That’s about three times 3 times the potassium in an orange and a bit more than a banana.
- Improved Digestive Health. Potatoes contain what is known as “resistant starch.” This means that it “resists” digestion in the small intestine and instead passes to the large intestine where it ferments. This is good because the fibers feed your good gut bacteria and act as a prebiotic. One result is that you feel full longer, which can potentially help with weight loss. Another is that colon cancer chances may be reduced.
One important note about potatoes: Do not eat them if they are green as they can contain poisonous chemicals that cannot be destroyed by cooking. Read more in this article The Claim: Green Potatoes are Poisonous about the dangers of eating green potatoes.
We hope this episode has helped you understand some of the benefits of incorporating potatoes into your diet. As we stated previously, while we ourselves think moderation is key, please be sure to consult your doctor before making any sort of drastic changes in your nutrition.
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Further Reading and Resources Used for this Episode:
- The Value of Whole Potato in Human Nutrition
- The Starch Solution (Full Talk) By Dr. John McDougall
- Potatoes: Good or Bad? (video)
- 7 Health Benefits of Potatoes
- 5 Amazing Health Benefits of Potatoes (video)
- 10 Health Benefits of Potatoes You Didn’t Know About
- Medicinal Uses of the Potato
- Potato Nutrition
- Heart Healthy Diet: 8 Steps to Prevent Heart Disease
- 13 Foods That Have More Potassium Than a Banana
- Vitamins and Minerals in Potatoes
- How Potassium Can Help Control High Blood Pressure
Resource of the Week
Recipe of the Week
Potato Casserole (Dr. John McDougall recipe) posted on Jeanne Schumacher – Simply Plant Based
Thanks for listening!
Peace and Veggies,
Vickie and Larissa