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It is believed by many people that white potatoes are part of the cause of the existence of obesity in North America. Is this true or false? Believe it or not, potatoes actually contain many of the nutrients that humans need to survive. One potato contains only 110 calories that come from 0g of fat, 0g of sodium, high in potassium, 2g of fiber, 26g of carbs, 3 g of protein and only 1g of sugar. Besides these clean macronutrients, potatoes also have 8 different types of vitamins and minerals. Potassium: When comparing a potato to a banana, a potato actually has more potassium than a banana. Potassium is essential for a healthy heart, maximum muscle function and digestion. Fiber: Potatoes have 2 grams of fiber! Why is fiber a benefit? It causes digestion to happen slower than usual therefore keeping you full for a longer period of time. Potatoes are also full of water meaning that it takes up more space in your stomach keeping you full. Sugar: Did you know that North Americans consume the equivalent of 22 teaspoons of sugar A DAY!? Potatoes however only have 1 gram of sugar and as we know, keep you full for a long time therefore eating potatoes may be a way for some people to reduce their sugar intake. Having read all of the above, you may ask yourself, why are potatoes know to be unhealthy? Here’s why: GLYCEMIC INDEX (GI)!!! What is a glycemic index? Continue reading! This is a system that has been created to rank foods on a scale from 1 to 100 based on their EFFECT ON BLOOD SUGAR LEVELS (in comparison to a pure table sugar). Now you must know that foods with a HIGH glycemix index are not good. WHY? Because they cause a quick spike in blood sugar which inturn causes a large amount of insulin to be released in the body. Yes – the body needs to have a release of insulin because it uses the insulin to make energy, however too much insulin becomes a problem. All foods release insulin to some extent but High GI foods release TOO much insulin. Insulin that is not converted to energy is than stored as FAT leading to weight gain and eventually can lead to diabetes. Glycemic index of a white potato is 82 out of 100. This is HIGH. It is in the same range as pizza. This is why people believe that white potatoes are not good for you! Potatoes have so many healthy benefits so now we ask, is there a way that we can get around this insulin release to make potatoes a healthy food??? Important fact about the GI of a food – it is based on that particular food when it is eaten ALONE. This means that the GI of a food can be drastically changed depending on what you choose to eat with it. If you add a low GI food with a high GI food, you will reduce the insulin release caused by the high GI food. The best foods to mix with a high GI food are:

  • Green vegetables

  • Fruits

  • Lentils

  • Olive oil

  • Avocado

  • Salsa

  • Citrus

These foods slow down digestion, which gives the body more time to break down sugars, causing blood sugar levels to remain stable. CONCLUSION: 1 - Yes, white potatoes can be a healthy if you carefully choose a side dish. 2 – Never eat them on their own. This is when they become terrible for you. 3 – Check the Glycemic Index on foods you’ve been eating and be sure to pair them with something that will reduce the insulin release. 4- Meats & fish have a low glycemic index, but NEVER mix them w. High GI foods!!! This will be explained in details in an upcoming article.

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