A very well-known rule relating to which carbs are good and which are bad is that you should avoid everything that’s white. This rule can be very misleading however, because it’s simply not always true. It’s mostly only white flour products that you need to be wary of, because they’re highly processed carbs and therefore of a low quality.
White rice is another white food that’s processed. It’s processed to remove the bran and the germ from the grain, to give it a more appealing texture and taste. The problem is, the bran and the germ is the most nutritious part of the grain. A much better option therefore is brown rice, which is rice in its natural state.
White potatoes are a food that have really got a bad rap that they don’t deserve. There are two reasons behind their bad reputation. Firstly, they’re white, so people naturally include them in the abovementioned rule. And secondly, they are actually a high GI food.
Potatoes may be white but they’re natural. When choosing carbs, the No.1 rule to follow is that they should be as natural as possible. The second rule, which is not quite as important, is that they have a low GI.
So potatoes satisfy the first rule, but not the second. But that doesn’t mean they need to be avoided. There’s nothing wrong with having potatoes, even on a weight loss program – just as long as you go about it the right way.
Here’s why GI isn’t the big deal it’s made out to be. When the GI values of carb foods are measured, they’re done with subjects having an empty stomach, and with them eating only the food being tested – and nothing else. This is so that nothing can affect the GI of the food being tested.
The fact is though that having undigested food in your system, eating protein foods with your carbs, eating fiber with your carbs, and eating fats with your carbs, all decrease their GI. All these things slow down the blood sugar response the carbs have in your body.
This is the major reason why you should never eat carbs on their own – because this is when their GI is at its highest. By eating a balanced meal of carbs, protein, healthy fat, and of course fiber, the GI of the carb becomes a lot lower and therefore less of a concern. You can look at it as meaning that the GI of an entire, balanced meal is what’s relevant, not the GI of the carb itself.
So by eating proper meals, avoiding carb snacks, and eating small, frequent meals, you go a long way to suppressing the unhealthy blood sugar response that high GI foods can create. This means that by eating potatoes the right way, and perhaps not too frequently, there’s no reason whatsoever they need to be avoided.
That being said, the way you prepare potatoes also has an effect on their GI. Here’s a quick list to help guide you:
This shows that boiling is the best way to prepare potatoes for minimum GI.
Another great alternative is cooled down boiled potato – as you would see in a cold potato salad. A percentage of the starch in potato becomes resistant starch when it cools down, meaning it doesn’t get digested by your system (which saves you some calories) but rather takes on many of the properties of soluble dietary fiber.
You can also look at sweet potatoes (yams) as an alternative to white potatoes, these have a GI of only 61.
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