Why am I talking about potatoes?? Well, they have had a bit of a bad rap in the past.
The nutrition world (including me!) had shunned potatoes because they were thought to spike your blood sugar, and not contain as many nutrients as other vegetables.
But in actual fact, recent science is showing they are actually more nutritious than we ever thought.
- Resistant Starch – potatoes contain resistant starch, a type of carbohydrate that's actually quite resistant to digestion in the small intestine, so it travels to the large intestine where it has lots of benefits. It doesn't cause any inflammation or spikes in insulin or blood sugar. Resistant starch has been shown to help with weight loss (keeping us full for longer) and regulating blood sugar levels, which obviously helps with obesity and Type 2 Diabetes, but the really good thing is that it's great for your gut, because it helps to feed your healthy bacteria, so supporting your digestive and immune systems.
- Nutrients – potatoes are actually rich in vitamins and minerals, especially the B vitamins and minerals such as potassium. They are also rich in vitamin C.
And to be honest, they taste really good don't they?
So what are the best ways to eat potatoes?
Well we're not talking about eating crisps and chips here (sorry!). Once they are processed and fried in vegetable oil, all the goodness has gone and you're just getting the trans fats.
Baking them is a really good way of keeping as much resistant starch as possible, but the best thing to do with potatoes is actually to cook them, and let them cool. Because when you let them cool, there is a bigger concentration of resistant starch in there.
Make sure you are eating organic potatoes, especially if you're eating the skins. You don't want to ruin the benefits by ingesting pesticides that can mess with your hormones!
So, cold, cooked potatoes would be my choice. You can make a potato salad, or you can roast your potatoes, and then if you want to heat them up the next day or cook them in a little bit of coconut oil or butter, lovely. You can make lovely chips with coconut oil by just baking them in the oven, if you like your chips!
So don't feel guilty about piling up the spuds! Just make sure they are cooked well, and you've lots of protein, healthy fats and other veg to go with, and you're good to go.
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Birt D, Boylston T, Hendrich S, et al. (2013) Resistant starch: promise for improving human health. Advances in Nutrition: An International Review Journal, 4:587 – 601
Nugent, A (2005) Health properties of resistant starch. Nutrition Bulletin,30:27 – 54.