The potato has a PR problem. They are the fourth largest food crop worldwide, with about 33 kg per capita consumed. They also have a fascinating history, are rich in several vitamins and micro and macronutrients our body needs, have a really low impact on blood sugar. But despite all these, they are the hapless victims of many misunderstood attacks. Can you remember the last time someone told you about their health-giving properties? We bet you can’t. But we are sure you can recall several instances when you saw someone turn up their nose at that aloo sabzi, insist that it was the potatoes that made them fat, and declare that they are now enlightened about this despicable villain and were finally going to win the fight against obesity? The potato has become a guilty pleasure, something one eats on the sly if on a diet. So yeah, the poor potato has a PR problem. In this blogpost, we dispel some myths about our PR client the potato and give you plenty of reasons to eat potatoes with gusto and no guilt at all.
Potatoes are packed with nutrients
Potatoes have a great resume i.e., their nutritional profile is great. They are an excellent source of vitamin B6 and a good source of potassium, copper, vitamin C, manganese, phosphorus, niacin (vitamin B3), dietary fibre, and pantothenic acid (vitamin B5).
They are especially rich in potassium when eaten with skin. In fact, they are considered to be one of the best sources of potassium. Your body needs potassium to maintain a normal blood pressure, help kidneys do their job, and ease muscle movements. Potatoes also come with zero cholesterol, no gluten (if you’re Celiac), and very little fat.
Potatoes are also a potent source of vitamin C. In fact, it is often recommended for preventing scurvy, and other vitamin C deficiency related illnesses.
Potatoes are diet-safe
This is true but misleading. Potatoes have a glycemic index of 87, which is considered high. But glycemic index is a poor indicator of the sugar load a food will exert on your body. The index does not factor in how much carbohydrates the food actually has; so it tells only part of the story. For example, the glycemic index of carrots is the same as that of table sugar!
Glycemic Load which also considers the actual carb content is better indicator of how the food will affect your blood sugar. Considering the better metric, potato has a medium Glycemic Load of 17. It is safe for diabetics to eat in moderation. But the non-diabetics concerned about carbohydrate content can eat it freely without worries. So unless potato can find a place even in the most protein-obsessed diet.
Potatoes do have carbs, but that’s a good thing
100 grams of potatoes have carbs 17 grams of carbohydrates. If you leave out the 3 grams of fibre (which is also a carb, but is not really absorbed by the body), that is 14 grams of it, only slightly higher than the amount in green peas.
Also important to note is that these carbohydrates are the simple, single chain ones like glucose or sucrose. They are complex carbohydrates which the body absorbs much more slowly. Complex carbs are longer chains of sugar molecules that take a longer time to breakdown, thus fuelling your body steadily, instead of the crash and burn that pure sugar causes. This means a much lower (or no) spike in blood sugar, and sustained levels of energy.
Potatoes are good when you have a bad tummy
Potatoes are recommended for stomach ulcers and when fighting high stomach acidity. They create mucilage giving the stomach a protective layer. Gastritis results in inflammation of stomach lining, and potatoes are soothing and anti-inflammatory. So when you have an upset stomach, eat some potatoes. Make sure not to spice them too much – you want it as bland as tolerable.
As long as you french fries are not the only way you eat potatoes, you should eat more of them.