Many folks still call out white potatoes as unhealthy. The idea is potatoes have a high glycemic index and derail regulation of blood sugar. This contributes to waist gain, diabetes and heart disease.
The reality is, potatoes do have a high glycemic index, but it’s unlikely they are a culprit as suggested by the recent meta analysis by Borch and pals.
Generally speaking, a better way to gauge the quality of food is to ask two questions.
Does it come in a box or bag with a label?
Is this food rich in micronutrients?
If the food comes in a box or bag and has a label, then several other questions need to be asked. But generally, packed and processed foods are not what your body needs. Also remember that you spend energy and resources (micronutrients) metabolizing and excreting dyes, preservatives, etc.
We want a high ratio of micronutrients to calories. Micronutrients help your body’s chemistry run properly. When you run out, things grind until they halt. One of the real culprits behind what is mentioned above is poor micronutrient status.
Here is a very good resource that will teach you what’s what about the food you’re putting in your mouth.
Using this tool we can compare 800 calories of reduced fat potato chips to 800 calories of baked potatoes.
The potato chips have:
~60% less magnesium
~50% less phosphorous
~60% less potassium
~50% less zinc
~500% less vitamin C
~50% less B vitamins
As you can see a calorie isn’t a calorie, in the sense that some calories give you less bang for your buck. You need these micronutrients above to protect you from a bigger waistline, diabetes and heart disease.
So it’s incorrect to say that in every case you’ll be just fine as long as your macros and calories are dialed in!
Potato consumption may need to be looked at closely in certain cases, such as in those who don’t handle carbohydrates very well.
If that’s you, an easy way to assess is by picking up a glucometer. Take 1 measurement pre meal and 3 measurements at one hour intervals post meal. If you’re not close to where you started before the meal or any one of the post 3 hours were above 180mg/dl, consider discussing your nutritional strategy with your doc.
For most, potatoes can be an important source of good nutrition!
Am J Clin Nutr August 2016 vol. 104 no. 2 489-498