Are White Potatoes Really Bad for You?
Since the beginning of the low-carb revolution brought on by Dr. Atkins in the early 90's, white potatoes have caught quite the bad rep , while sweet potatoes have been elevated to superfood status. Until that time, regular potatoes were a staple to the healthy american's diet, so are they really all that bad for you? Which should you be eating to attain maximum health?
Compare the nutritional content of 100 g of sweet potatoes and white potatoes in the chart below:
You'll probably notice that they are pretty darn similar with white potatoes looking slightly better because of its higher protein content, and lower calorie, fat, carb, sugar, & sodium content. So why has the spud been demonized for so many modern health-conscious people?
One problem stems from the fact, that when most people think of eating potatoes, they come in fatty processed forms like french fries, chips, and tater tots. Obviously these are not the best decisions for anyone, but what about unprocessed whole potatoes that aren't slathered in grease, sour cream, cheese, and butter?
Another reason regular potatoes have been given blacklisted-status is because of a little something called the Glycemic Index. The Glycemic Index (GI) is the measure of how quickly food converts into glucose (sugar), so the higher the GI, the quicker the food converts to sugar.
Listed in the chart below are the GI levels of Sweet Potatoes and Regular potatoes along with a few other popular high-carb for comparison:
As you can see, regular potatoes and sweet potatoes both have a higher GI than other healthy carbs, with baked potatoes shooting above the rest at the score of 111. Those can be scary numbers, but consider that the way you cook your potato helps to determine the GI. Boiling a sweet potato can lower its GI score of 82 to 46, while boiling a regular potato can bring the GI score from 111 to 82.
When deciding what to include in your diet, high glycemic index scores are not necessarily a deal breaker. If you're an active individual, your body can process high glycemic carbs better, so consider your lifestyle and all of a food's benefits before you write that food off for having a high GI score.
While both sweet and white potatoes have a higher GI compared to other foods, they're pros far outweigh the cons. Here are the benefits of both:
- Both are highly satiating, meaning you will stay fuller longer and won't be binging on junk when you're hungry 30 minutes later.
- Both are also chock-full of vitamins & minerals.
- Both contain tons of antioxidants and phytonutrients essential for keeping your immune system healthy.
- Both contain "feel-good" chemicals like dopamine and the those found in Valium
- White sweet potatoes contain something called Caiapo which has been known to help treat diabetes!!
- Both taste delicious!
- Both contain resistant starch which is starch our bodies can't digest, so while they are high in carbs, they don't act like other high-carb foods.
While white potatoes have generally been blacklisted from the health community, both regular and sweet potatoes have a place in the active person's diet. As long as you are mindful of the way you prepare them and what you put in/on them, sweet potatoes and regular potatoes add tons of value to every active person's diet!