Blog

Is eating potatoes good for you?

cold potato resistant starch
Ilona Madden - RightFood4U - Nutrition Programmes - Bray Wicklow Dublin

Written by Ilona Madden

July 30, 2021

Eat your spuds!

For some reason, when I heard a lot of my clients or people I talk to “apologising” for eating potatoes. For some reason, potatoes seem to have gotten a reputation of being “bad” for you or being “fattening”.

So, let me debunk the potato myth and show you ways of how to enjoy your potatoes and get the most out of them.

  1. Are potatoes high in calories?

Like with many other foods, it’s not the calories per se that are the problem, but one of the reasons why potatoes have gotten a bad reputation is their Glycemic Index, and how they affect the blood sugar. Potatoes contain a starch that is easily digested and therefore enters the blood stream quickly and can give you energy quickly. But it also requires a lot of insulin to take it from the blood stream into your cells. And high insulin release can lead to insulin resistance and to fat storage and can lead to diabetes. Any food that causes an insulin spike also causes you to feel hungry again soon after. Especially, when potatoes are white and mashed, it is easy to over-eat as they are so easily digested.

So, here’s what you can do:
  • Eat your potatoes boiled or baked with the skin. The skin contains extra fibre that slows down the release into the blood stream and provides fibre which will keep you fuller for longer.
  • Eat your potatoes with some protein or good fats. This will also reduce the glycemic index and will require less insulin. Add some tuna, some cheese, or just butter to your baked potato. Have your potatoes with another protein source such as fish or meat or cheese.
  • Prefer cooked or boiled potatoes to mashed potatoes.

BTW, apply the same principle to your pasta. If you cook pasta “al dente” – as the Italians do – it has a lower glycaemic index. If you over-cook pasta to really soft you can easily overeat on it.

BTW, the reason why sweet potatoes are often classified as “better” is that their glycaemic index is slightly lower and because they are more filling.

 

  1. Potatoes are highly nutritious!

Any food that you put into your body should contain nutrients. A lot of things that are now called food contain no nutrients. I would prefer you eat potatoes any day overeating factory baked white bread or wraps which are often advertised as being “healthy”.

  • Potatoes are real food that has nourished and sustained humans for centuries – and there’s no other country that knows this better than Ireland. Ireland’s population grew rapidly in the 18th century because the potato was the number one food staple. Unfortunately, it was also the biggest fate when the potato crop failed as it was the only source of food most Irish people had.
  • Potatoes are rich in carbohydrates, but also contain many vitamins and other nutrients and make it a truly nutritious and valuable source of food.
  • Potatoes are highly versatile and make the base of many nutritious and delicious meals.

So enjoy them! As with anything of course, if you are trying to lose weight, over-eating is never a good idea.

BTW, comparing sweet potato and white potato, there is a difference in the type of vitamins and nutrients, but neither is better or worse than the other.

 

  1. Eating potato salad is really good for you!

Real magic can happen when you let your cooked potato cool down. The starch in the potato actually changes to something that is called “resistant starch”. Starches are a form of carbohydrates that consist of long chains. These chains are then broken down by our digestive enzymes that are being released from the pancreas when the food arrives in the stomach. Through the cooking process the starch changes and when being cooled down again, it changes again. The starch has become resistant to the enzymes and cannot be broken down. The starch travels straight through your body and will only be broken down in your large intestine, but not by enzymes, but rather by gut bacteria.

Most likely, you have heard of fibre. Fibre also is not broken down until it gets to your large intestine where it is “food” for the good gut bacteria, as well as bulk for your stool.

These gut bacteria – as a thank you for the food you provide them with – then in return produce so-called short-chain-fatty acids which produce energy. These gut bacteria have a connection to your brain through the vagus nerve and help you feel better emotionally, less stressed and less anxious. These gut bacteria help your immune system. These gut bacteria produce vitamins for you. And we know that healthier people have a higher variety of gut bacteria. On the other hand, it has been discovered that people with depression, Alzheimer, diabetes, heart disease and many other “modern” chronic diseases tend to have less variety of good gut bacteria.

Plus, as the potatoes simply go through you, you don’t need to worry about their calories!

What can you do to get the magic?

If you love it, eat most of your potatoes cold in a salad. However, even when reheated – after having been cooled completely – they still contain a huge amount of resistant starch. So, let them cool down and reheat in another dish. I remember from my childhood that my mum always had cold cooked potatoes lying around. She’d boil a big amount of them, and then use them afterwards in lots of other traditional German dishes. It seems to me that our ancestors already knew this “trick”.

When I have a dinner with potatoes, I always cook a few more, and use them in a frittata as a base, or fry them with a bit of bacon, onions and cheese and have with a side salad, as well as making a potato salad that I can enjoy for a few days.

BTW, the same applies to rice, and we see this in the traditional dish of Sushi, where the rice has been cooled down. When I cook brown rice for my dinner, I now always cook a little bit more, and have the rice cooled and then again in the morning with some fruit and nuts as a milk-rice type breakfast.

I hope, I have helped you fall in love with potatoes again. If you have any questions about this or are worried about eating potatoes or weight gain, please contact me at ilona@rightfood4u.ie or book a complimentary Health & Energy Review call at https://rightfood4uappointment.as.me/ or go to: Contact – RightFood4U – 20 Minutes Can Change Your Life!

 

You May Also Like:

Why do I eat when I am not even hungry?

Why do I eat when I am not even hungry?

 In this article, I explore where sugar cravings come from and the 6 different types of "non-hunger eating". Let’s face it, we all know deep down that we should eat more vegetables and stay away from processed foods, don’t we? Then why is it so difficult? Why can we...