Nutrition Close-Up: Potatoes

Experts are split into two camps  when it comes to  potatoes.  The  pro-potato people  like that  it  has  some fiber, vitamin C and potassium.  They point out that potatoes are salt and fat free and a  4 ounce serving has only 100 calories.  Filling and bland, the pro-potato  people maintain that their bad rep  comes from the oil, butter, salt, cheese aand cream that are used prepare them.  Its these other ingredients and cooking techniques that  make potatoes such a bad actor.  This  means french fries, potato chips,  mashed with cream and butter, au gratin with cheese and my personal favorite the “fully loaded” baked potato.

The anti-potato  camp are concerned with potatoes’ high glycemic index.  In a scale of 1-100, potatoes are  about a 95.  Just about the only food higher is a loaf of french bread.  This means that potatoes spike blood sugar  to unhealthy levels. This  encourages the body to  produce extra insulin that is stored as fat.  At the same time, the swings in blood sugar levels  increase appetite– one of the reasons  you can devour an entire bag of chips or a mound of fries.  And keep in mind that high blood sugar levels are linked to increased skin aging.

The anti-potato crowd  got a big boost this summer from a new study published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine.  Over 25 years this study   looked at the eating patterns  of 120,000 men and women to see which foods were associated with weight gain and which were associated with weight loss.  And the one food  with the highest link to obesity was, wait for it, the potato.   When I first heard this, I thought of course, its those chips and fries.  It turns out than even  plain baked and boiled potatoes  were associated with obesity.   Not good news for Idaho.

Happily, this info  packed study also identified the eight food that are associated with weight loss.  And there were a few surprises in them that I will be posting about them   in two weeks.

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