Potatoes are considered bad in many different health and diet communities. The keto and low-carb crowd say they’re very high in carbohydrates and will spike your blood sugar. Paleo people are against them because they are Neolithic foods from the New World that our Paleolithic ancestors didn’t have access to. The autoimmune diet communities shun them because they contain various plant toxins that can cause inflammation and trigger sensitive and vulnerable individuals, and traditional “healthy diet” people advise against potatoes because they are “empty.” white carbs”.
Is this criticism justified? Is it true that potatoes have no place in a healthy diet, or are potatoes really healthy? How do potatoes fit into the Primal Diet?
Let’s dig into the anecdotal evidence.
Potatoes Are Healthier Than You Think
Potatoes are actually a lot healthier than you might believe. Think about what a potato is: it’s a storehouse of nutrients to grow many new potatoes. This is an egg. And just as eggs are among the most nutrient-dense animal foods on Earth, the basic potato is one of the most nutrient-dense vegetable foods on Earth. In one large baked potato weighing about 10 ounces, you get a wide assortment of vitamins, minerals, protein and prebiotic fiber.
Potatoes Are High in Vitamins and Minerals
Here’s to break. The percentages represent the proportion of the daily recommended intake for each nutrient.
- 16% of B1 (thiamine)
- 11% of B2 (riboflavin)
- 26% of B3 (niacin)
- 22% of B5 (pantothenic acid)
- 55% of B6 (Pyridoxine)
- 21% of folate
- 32% Vitamin C
- 39% of copper
- 40% iron
- 20% of magnesium
- 28% of manganese
- 34% of potassium
- 10% Zinc
- 6.6 g prebiotic fiber
- 7.5 grams protein
All that for 278 calories and 56 grams of “net” carbs.
Potatoes are rich in potassium
The dietary potassium/sodium ratio is an important determinant of endothelial function and blood pressure regulation, more important than sodium alone, and there is good evidence that potatoes are an excellent way to improve potassium status. Potassium from potatoes is just as bioavailable as potassium from supplements. In fact, adding potatoes to the diet may be more effective at lowering blood pressure than adding an equivalent amount of potassium directly.
Potatoes are high in fiber and low in carbs as you know.
Potatoes have a reputation for being “refined carbohydrates” that “spikes” your blood sugar. They are considered very high in carbs. It’s true—potatoes are a rich source of starch. But the starch in potatoes is a bit different from other starch sources. Going back to that figure, on top of the 56 grams of carbs in a large baked potato, 11 grams will be resistant starch—a prebiotic substrate that feeds your gut biome, produces butyric acid, and is digested by your body into glucose. does not go If you keep your baked potatoes in the fridge, the resistant starch content gets even higher.
In addition to resistant starch (which acts like prebiotic fiber), potatoes contain significant amounts of fiber.
A recent study in type 2 diabetic patients compared the metabolic effect of an evening meal containing potatoes with that of an evening meal containing rice. Whether potatoes are boiled, roasted, or boiled and then kept in the refrigerator before eating, eating potatoes has a more favorable effect on blood glucose than eating rice in type 2 diabetes. Same number of calories, same macros (50 carbs / 30 fat / 20 protein), only difference was potatoes vs rice. Potatoes easily won, and among type 2 diabetics – the population that is not able to handle potatoes.
However, the potato only won in comparison rice, Potatoes are still high in carbohydrates, and type 2 diabetics, people with insulin resistance and those who have trouble handling carbs should exercise caution with potatoes.
potatoes are very filling
A 1995 study that tested the “satiety index”—a measure of how filling a particular food is—found that boiled potatoes induced the most satiety of all the foods tested. Even if potatoes have too many carbs for your liking, they’re less likely to promote overeating than other foods — probably because of their water content, fiber content and micronutrient density. .
Note: plain potatoes are filling. If you throw half a stick of butter into your baked potato or sit down to a plate of french fries, they’re not so filling. You can eat far more carbs and calories with french fries than with boiled potatoes.
Potatoes contain complete proteins
While the absolute amount of protein in a potato is not very high compared to animal products, the protein it does contain is a “complete protein”. This means that it contains all the essential amino acids that your body needs and cannot produce on its own. In fact, potato protein is possibly the most complete plant form of protein.
Potatoes contain less plant toxins
Potatoes, being the reproductive organs of potato plants, provide a “passive” defense against predators. They are stem tubers. They can’t run or have bare teeth, so they burrow underground to stay safe and secrete toxic chemical protectors known as glycoalkaloids.
The most abundant glycoalkaloids in potatoes are alpha-solanine and alpha-cocaine, which are used by the plant to repel insects. Most glycoalkaloids are fortunately concentrated in the potato skin, forcing less sophisticated insects to eat through the toxins to get to the good stuff. This is probably why traditional potato-eating cultures peel the potatoes they eat. These days, Like Russet, the most common potato also has the lowest amount of glycoalkaloids., This is no accident, but the product of generations of careful agricultural selection by farmers. Then, throughout history, humans unknowingly, either by peeling the skins off potatoes, or choosing low-glycoalkaloid varieties that didn’t provoke stomach pain, digestive issues, or inflammation, used potato glycoalkaloids to sell well in the market. Tried to avoid the bulk of the. ,
But some glycoalkaloids persist. Are they harmful? high dose Glycoalkaloids are clearly harmful, but most common potatoes with their skins do not contain high amounts of glycoalkaloids. Most studies showing harm used supra-physiological doses of purified glycoalkaloids; One of the only studies showing harm using physiological doses that you would normally get from eating potatoes used intestinal permeable mice with a genetic predisposition to inflammatory bowel disease. It is a useful study, however, because it tells us that potatoes may be a threat to humans with leaky gut or existing inflammatory bowel disease.
To make sure you are avoiding glycoalkaloids, Always throw away or remove (or plant) potatoes that are green or sprouting., This indicates an increase in glycoalkaloid content.
There are a few older studies that showed increased inflammation markers when potatoes were fed, but one included wheat and other high-glycemic foods in the “potato group” (not just potatoes) and another used potato chips. . Was it the rancid seed oil the chips were fried in, or the potatoes? Was it wheat bread or potato? These tell us little about the effects of whole, unblemished potatoes on inflammation.
But if you are healthy with good gut health and function, I don’t think that baked, boiled or mashed potatoes will have a negative effect on your gut. In fact, the prebiotic effects of potato resistant starch and fiber may also have beneficial effects on gut health.
Can you eat potatoes on keto?
The classic medical ketogenic diet forces you to eliminate potatoes. They represent a great deal of carbs when your mental and physical health depends on staying in ketosis. If you’re more of a casual keto or low-carb dieter, there are instances where a potato can work.
Training: If you incur a “glycogen debt” through intense exercise, you can replenish that debt by using potatoes without disrupting ketosis. Exercise regulates insulin-independent glycogen replenishment, so you don’t even need insulin to store glucose in your muscles. High-end athletes will regularly be in ketosis, despite eating a high-carb diet, simply because they train so hard and so often.
carb refeed: A carb refeed describes the use of intermittent high-carb, low-fat meals to “carb up” against a background of low-carb dieting to boost leptin and increase energy expenditure. In many instances, this will kickstart weight loss and make it easier and more effective to maintain your otherwise low-carb diet in the long term. If you’re going to carb refeed, potatoes are an excellent, nutrient-dense food to use.
Potatoes May Be an Effective Short-Term Weight Loss “Hack”
Long ago, people in MDA forums and comment sections were doing “potato hacks” to lose weight. I’m not a fan of hacks, but I have to admit it really works for some people. how does it work?
For 4-7 days you eat nothing but potatoes.
- Eat potatoes Nothing else. White potatoes, not sweet potatoes.
- Use vinegar, hot sauce, mustard, and other low-calorie, low-fat, low-carb sauces and condiments. Mayo and Ewu are off limits. Primal Kitchen ketchup and mustard are perfect.
- Use a minimum of fat to reheat or cook your potatoes. No more than one teaspoon of fat at each meal.
- Salt liberally.
- Eat till you are full.
- Eat frequently Whenever you are hungry, eat potatoes until you are not hungry.
- Keep exercising. This will reduce muscle loss.
Most people find that they get tired of potatoes very quickly and lose 5-10 pounds over the course of a week. It becomes an exercise in trying to force yourself to eat as many as possible because potatoes are very filling and you need to maintain your energy intake and nutrient status. 4-6 pounds of potatoes a day is fairly typical and provides adequate levels of most nutrients (and even a decent amount of protein), but is difficult to maintain. And therein lies the power of the potato hack: You can’t eat too many plain potatoes.
Even though I am generally biased towards low-carb intake—especially in overweight people with poor insulin sensitivity—I have to admit that if people eat potatoes instead of refined grains and other nutrient-deficient starchy carbohydrates , then health across the board will improve. Potatoes are one of the safest, nutrient-dense and least toxic sources of carbohydrates available.
I hope this article has helped you understand the place of potatoes in a healthy primal diet. Take care, and tell me whether you like to eat potatoes or not!
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