Can Potatoes Be a Healthy Part of Your Diet?

Employee sorting potatoes

PotatoesAbsolutely. In the past, potatoes have been cast as a villain — as a carbohydrate-rich vegetable that could make you pack on the pounds. Not so, says the latest research from the University of California, Davis and the National Center for Food Safety and Technology, Illinois Institute of Technology.

“The results of this study confirm what health professionals and nutrition experts have said for years; when it comes to weight loss, it is not about eliminating a certain food or food groups, rather, it is reducing calories that count,” said lead researcher Dr. Britt Burton-Freeman, PhD, MS.

When you eat carbohydrates they break down into glucose. A food that has a high glycemic index (GI) is one that causes a large or rapid elevation in your blood glucose level. Researchers have hypothesized that high GIs can contribute to weight gain. But thus far, research indicates that a moderate-to-high carbohydrate diet helps lower your risk for some chronic diseases and prevents obesity. Further, there are a number of factors that can influence a food’s GI factor — ripeness, processing, preparation, and variety of the vegetable. Evidence also shows that combining carbohydrates with proteins — for example, a meal including a baked potato and a chicken breast — can lower the overall GI of your meal.

The best advice? Don’t consider GI values in isolation when trying to lose weight. Yes, ice cream has a lower GI than a potato — but all things considered, a potato is still a better nutritional choice. One medium-size (5.3 ounce) skin-on potato contains just 110 calories per serving, boasts more potassium (620g) than a banana, provides almost half the daily value of vitamin C (45 percent), and contains no fat, sodium or cholesterol. You can’t say the same of lower-GI ice cream.

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