Recently, I was asked numerous times why I prefer not to eat white potatoes but include sweet potatoes in our meals. I think this is a good question, one that deserved it’s own post.
First, let me start by saying that if you are choosing to include white potatoes in your diet, this is great! There is nothing inherently wrong with white potatoes. In fact, white potatoes have some great benefits:
- They are a great source of Vitamins B6 and C.
- They are high in potassium, offering more than 25% of the recommended daily value.
- White potatoes have phytonutrients that act as antioxidants.
Please keep in mind, however, that by white potatoes, I mean baked potatoes, with perhaps a small teaspoon of organic butter or ghee, a sprinkle of a few spices, or topped with chives or broccoli. I am not referring to french fries, potato chips, loaded baked potatoes, chili fries, or anything similar. Mashed potatoes would even be acceptable, so long as you are not adding loads of sour cream, milk, and or butter.
Despite the health benefits of white potatoes, they are not the healthiest of the potato family, though. So, I prefer sweet potatoes over white potatoes.
There’s a family of vegetables called “Nightshade” vegetables. Nightshade vegetables include white potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, sweet and hot peppers, and several spices (think hot: cayenne, chili powder, curry powder, paprika, etc.). Nightshade vegetables are known to “contain compounds that promote gut irritability, inflammation, and joint pain and stiffness” in some people.
In addition, white potatoes have a higher glycemic index than sweet potatoes. Glycemic index is a concept that I’ve only recently become familiar with, as it is has a lot to do with diabetes. The glycemic index of a food refers to the effect of the food on blood sugar. High glycemic foods cause quick spikes in blood sugar, followed by a quick drop. Low glycemic foods increase and decrease the blood sugar steadily. The glycemic index of white potatoes is approximately 82-87, while sweet potatoes hovers around 70.
Do those few points make a difference? Probably not. And I do eat other nightshade vegetables (tomatoes and peppers are regulars in my dishes). However, I find that when I eat white potatoes, I feel sluggish, have severe stomach cramps, and become bloated; none of which occurs when I eat sweet potatoes or other nightshade vegetables.
So, the takeaway here? It’s really a matter of personal preference. Some vegetables are better than no vegetables, so if by eating white potatoes, you’re getting in a serving of vegetables that you otherwise wouldn’t be getting, it’s better than nothing. To each his own!