Just as potatoes have come into question over the years, so have carbohydrates writ large. Yet most nutrition experts are quick to point out that not all carbohydrates are created equal. The type found in potatoes, for example, is a complex form called amylose, says functional-medicine-trained dietitian Heidi Moretti, MS, RD.
“This means that when you eat potatoes, they digest more slowly than sugar, which is a simple carb,” she explains. “Because they have carbs, potatoes can increase blood-sugar levels, but the way they’re prepared and what you eat them with can change this drastically.”
Because they have carbs, potatoes can increase blood-sugar levels, but the way they’re prepared and what you eat them with can change this drastically.”
For example, if you drizzle extra-virgin olive oil on a boiled potato and serve it with protein, she says, you will soften its effect on your blood sugar.
Different potatoes also have different starch levels. Waxy varieties, like fingerling or red potatoes, have lower starch. They have a milder blood-sugar impact than their starchier counterparts, like russets, which are most commonly used in fries and chips. (Avoid these preparations and you’ll also avoid the trans fats that usually accompany them.)
Finally, as with most dense carbohydrate sources, moderation is important.
“If you eat a small amount of potatoes, like half a cup, your blood-glucose impact will be much less than if you eat a big serving,” explains Moretti.
This was excerpted from “The Great Potato Comeback” which was published in the March 2022 issue of Experience Life magazine.