After being a staple food for humans for over 7,000 years, and being an important part of global food security, it has been observed that the amount of potatoes consumed around the world is steadily declining, as it is commonly accused of being “unhealthy”, despite being a nutritious and versatile vegetable. It can be an essential part of healthy meals, according to the Mayoclinic website.
And surveys by the United States Department of Agriculture showed that potatoes were the most consumed food in America in 2019 (about 57 kilograms per person per year, compared to more than 60 kilograms per person per year in Australia ), most of which are eaten in the form of fried fries, without a lot of sugar other vegetables.
This question is explained by writer and personal trainer, Beth Skwariki, that “poor eating is caused by not eating vegetables, not eating potatoes.” She also commented on studies that linked potato consumption to high rates of type 2 diabetes and other health problems, saying: “The problem may not be in the potatoes they themselves, but because they are part of an unhealthy diet for those who eat a lot of fast food.”
Potatoes are innocent
A Danish study, published late last year, found that “potatoes are not linked to diabetes, as long as they are eaten boiled or baked, and not fried”.
Research was also published two years ago that differentiates between boiled and fried potatoes, noting that the former is not linked to diabetes and does not lead to high blood sugar, as long as it is consumed within the framework of a healthy meal.
However, after the accusation of ‘unhealthy’ was attached to potatoes because they are fried in fats and oils which pose a health problem, as ‘consumption of fried foods can lead to increased calories, which can lead to weight gain,” according to the Mayo Clinic.
Another reason for the potato’s bad reputation was added, is its high starch or carbohydrate content, “considering that it can cause a sudden spike in blood sugar, generating a measure of energy, followed by feeling hungry and tired after a short time”. period”, but this is not a good enough reason. Overlooking that “carbohydrates are a necessary source of energy for the body and the mind, and associating potatoes with foods rich in protein, fiber and healthy fats, can slow digestion time and stabilize blood sugar. ”
Although “the carb avoidance craze has started to wane,” says Beth, potatoes are still considered a poor and healthy food option, prompting people to eat sweet potatoes instead of white, “even though they are no different from each other, nutritionally.” .
The potato is a nutritional resource
Potatoes contain a host of nutrients that make them part of a healthy diet, especially when paired with foods high in protein and fiber. A large potato contains 284 calories and provides 81% of our daily vitamin C needs and 64% of our daily needs for vitamin C. Vitamin B6, and 64% carbohydrates.
Potatoes also contain 33% of our daily potassium needs, 8 grams of protein, 8 grams of fiber and less than 1 gram of fat. It is a good source of manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, niacin and folic acid.
These numbers are impressive compared to other types of vegetables, as potatoes contain more fiber and protein than brown rice and contain the same percentage of protein and more fiber than quinoa.
Not only that, but the potato skin itself contains many of the nutrients mentioned above, which is why experts recommend saving it when mashing or cooking potatoes.
Why should we eat potatoes?
Yes indeed, we should eat potatoes, not only because they are economical, but because they:
- Rich in carbohydrates, energy, fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants (which can prevent certain types of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer).
- Provides resistant starch, a type of starch that can feed beneficial bacteria in the gut. It is associated with a number of health benefits, such as controlling blood sugar and insulin sensitivity, increasing nutrient absorption, and improving digestive health.
- Potatoes are one of the most satisfying and low-calorie foods compared to rice and pasta. Boiled potatoes are 7 times more satisfying than croissants, as they contain a good amount of fiber important for your health. of the digestive system, as it slows digestion, reduces hunger and improves satiety.
- You are saved from premature death by the action of vitamin C, which is anti-scurvy.
- Rich in potassium, which supports the functioning of the heart, muscles and nervous system.
- Sweet varieties are a good source of vitamin A, which is important for immunity and eye health.
- It does not cause an increase in blood sugar, provided it is consumed as part of a healthy, integrated meal.
- Purples are rich in anthocyanins, which are anti-cardioprotective and anti-cancer, and promote brain health.
When does a potato become unhealthy?
According to Beth, potatoes can become useless when fried in unhealthy oils, combined with white bread or other sources of refined carbohydrates.
Or when it’s loaded with lots of layers of cheese and sour cream because it means “more calories and saturated fat, which can be bad for your heart.”
Nutritionist Andrea Dunn also recommends olive oil and garlic, rather than sour cream, butter and lots of salt.
Additionally, processed and fried potato chips may contain more calories and fat than those that have been boiled or baked, which contributes to weight gain, given the amount and number of times they are eaten. consumed.
However, when potatoes are prepared properly and eaten in moderation, as part of a balanced diet, they are not likely to cause weight gain and may even be a beneficial addition to your diet.