White potatoes have conjured up quite a bit of controversy in the Paleo community. Are they Paleo or aren't they? The Paleo Foundation did a bit of research on this and carefully considered the criteria before making a decision. The arguments on both sides of the controversy had validity but one side was a little stronger. The Paleo Foundation determined in their findings that 72% of the Paleo community determined the white potato as being Paleo friendly. However, the minority gave a strong argument to the contrary.
Potatoes Should Not Be Included as Paleo
- Potatoes were not eaten until the Agricultural Revolution. Therefore, they were not eaten by the hunters and gatherers as are most Paleo foods.
- Potatoes have a high glycemic index and are high in carbs.
- Potatoes are consumed in highly processed forms.
- Potatoes are in the nightshade family.
Potatoes Should Be Included as Paleo
- Potatoes are a whole food, and when eaten unprocessed, or prepared with Paleo-approved ingredients, are considered Paleo-friendly.
- White potatoes, when eaten with the skin, have comparable nutritional value of the sweet potato, which is considered Paleo.
- Unless you are restricting carbohydrates, potatoes offer essential nutrition and fiber.
- Potatoes are part of the nightshade family, which thou not approved by the AIP diet, should be included in the Paleo diet.
- Paleo ingredients and cooking techniques can be used to avoid over processing or refining the vegetable.
The Anatomy of the Potato
Before we can really argue the inclusion or exclusion of the white potato, let's look at some of its nutritional properties. Looking at an average to large 3-4" potato, their ingredient statement might read:
- No saturated fat, no cholesterol, and only 290 calories. Some argue that a small to medium-sized potato contains only 100 calories per serving, making it low-cal yet very filling.
- Low in sodium (less than 24 grams) and high in potassium, over 1640 grams. Some research suggests that diets high in potassium and low in sodium reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke.
- Nearly 7 grams of dietary fiber. Dietary fiber has been shown to have numerous health benefits, including improving blood lipid levels, regulating glucose and making you feel fuller longer after eating.
- Protein, 8 grams. Protein is a key component of muscle.
- 64 grams of carbohydrates. Carbs provide energy to the muscles and help optimize mental and physical performance.
- 64% of the RDA in Vitamin C. Vitamin C plays a key role in the synthesis of collagen and helps to support the body's immune system.
- Great source of Vitamin B6 which is incremental in carbohydrate and protein metabolism. It assists your body in turning energy from the food you eat into energy your body can use.
- Though they are high in carbs, potatoes contain no gluten, making them a good carbohydrate source for gluten-free diets.
Potatoes contain high-quality protein because of their amino acid composition. It was determined during testing, that potatoes exceeded the recommended amino acid levels for lysine, tryptophan, and methionine which ultimately play a vital role in muscle repair. Even though the potato is very nutritious, it gets its bad reputation because it is such a dominant source of carbohydrates. People who are restricting their carb intake will often omit the potato from their diet. Those who practice the Keto diet avoid potatoes for the same reason.
Potatoes are part of the nightshade family and grow underground as tubers. They are planted from "seed potatoes", actual potatoes from prior harvests. Once the plant above the ground blooms, it produced the tubers and at the end of the season, the plant will die off and the potatoes can be dug up from the soil. Like many fruits, they offer the perfect serving size when harvested.
Why are Potatoes Considered Unhealthy?
Potatoes get a bad rep, mainly because of the way they are prepared and consumed. Potatoes are piled high with toppings, deep-fried in animal fat, or prepared with additives such as butter, milk, or mayo. This not only increases the caloric and fat content, it also colors the potato in an unhealthy light. So a small potato may only have 100 calories, but that could be doubled or tripled with toppings or additives.
It has a high glycemic index, causing your blood sugar to spike. It has a GI of 82 while the sweet potato has a GI of 70.
They are a comfort food and sometimes that makes portion control a problem. A heaping helping of mashed potatoes or a huge serving of French fries are prime examples. The fat and butter don't get maligned. The potato does.
Are Potatoes Paleo or Not?According to the Paleo Foundation, "The Paleo Foundation Consensus Report concludes that the Official Paleo Status of white potatoes is that they are Paleo, and thus, will be allowed in the Certified Paleo Standards." So though we concur, we suggest you limit your consumption of potatoes if:
- You have problems digesting carbs.
- You are doing a low-carb or Keto version along with your Paleo diet.
- You are also following the AIP diet.
- You have trouble with portion control.
- The potatoes are processed or have added ingredients that are not Paleo friendly.
ConclusionWhite potatoes may be considered Paleo-friendly and may be consumed while on a Paleo diet. They cannot be processed or prepared with non-Paleo ingredients. And though they may be on the approved list of Paleo foods, we advise using moderation. Consider new ways to cook the potato without dairy or unapproved fat to vary the flavor profile. Following the Paleo diet has improved your health and f you have not added potatoes, try doing in small amounts. If you are able to tolerate, you can get creative with recipes and increase the amount of potatoes in your diet.
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