One Potato, Two Potato

March 28, 2017 in Health, Nutrition, Uncategorized by Joyce Bunderson

Were potatoes one of your past standard fares that bit the dust? I realize that, at our home, we don’t eat white potatoes very often. We’re more likely to eat sweet potatoes or other starchy vegetables, brown rice or quinoa instead of white potatoes. But since white potatoes are the most consumed vegetable in the US, it’s apparent that lots of someones are eating potatoes and they have not bit the dust for many people. So let’s take a little peek at potatoes; what’s a concern and what’s not.

One of the nice things about potatoes is that if stored properly, they can be on hand for quite a while. Another is that they offer significant nutritional benefits, especially if prepared in a healthy manner. And let’s not forget the taste; they can be yummy for both adults and children.

One of the reasons that potatoes became in infrequent food on our table is that fluffy starchy middle – the quickly digested carbohydrate that tends to drive blood sugar up. Certainly, when we do eat potatoes, we try to limit the serving size and we eat them with other foods to help blunt the starch from raising blood sugar.

The bigger issue is French fries. The latest results on French fry intake found an association with increased diabetes risk. So passing up fries seems to be wise. As with all research that finds correlation, it’s not proof; it always opens the possibility that something else was the cause. The possibility exists that those who are consistently eating fries, are also consistently not eating a healthy dietary pattern or living a healthy lifestyle. But if you want to decide on the safe side, eating fries infrequently and in small portions seems like a good decision.

Let me just suggest that if potatoes are your only vegetable, make a goal to begin by eating at least one colorful vegetable or fruit at each meal. Work on that for a week and then move the goal to include more colorful vegetables. Eventually, you can replace some of the potato with less starchy vegetables like green beans, broccoli or red peppers, for example.

It is not an old wives’ tale that the skin is the healthiest part of the potato. So eat the scrubbed and roasted skin. If you don’t like the skin, try cooking the potato with the skin and gently removing the skin to get as much of the flesh right under the skin as possible. You won’t get the benefit of the fiber, but you will glean some of the nutrients that cluster near the skin.

A study in Sweden may give us a reason to include potatoes in our meals; it found no association between potato consumption and cardiovascular events. Good for potatoes! If you want to add some potatoes to your menu planning consider a baked potato topped with Greek yogurt and some chopped onions, chives or other vegetables. You may even enjoy adding chopped chicken, other meat, and a light dusting with cheese. This is a great way to blunt the starch load and thus the rise in blood sugar. Having some of the fluffy white deliciousness without raising blood sugar too much may be an attractive option.

If you have a dry, dark place that stays about 45 to 50-degrees Fahrenheit for a while, you’ve got the perfect place to store potatoes. If not, buy fewer potatoes; as they may sprout and begin rotting.

Let me just mention a little about the nutritional features of white potato. If you start with a small potato (about 5 ounces), you can get one-fifth of a day’s worth of vitamin C, potassium, and B6. As in almost all whole foods, there are many nutrients besides the ones named; in the potato’s case there is protein, some healthy fats, and a number of other vitamins and minerals. If you eat the skin, it’s a good source of fiber. The entire small potato is only 128 calories; it seems to be a bargain – the key is the serving size.

If by chance, you miss potatoes being part of your standard fare, consider enjoying a tasty, economic, nutritious, and healthy potato from time to time.