Diet & Nutrition

Are potatoes bad for you? A dietitian gives us the facts

Carb lovers, you'll want to read this.

By Alex Lilly
Whether they're boiled, mashed or stuck in a stew, potatoes are always a favourite at the dinner table. But for years, there has been an ongoing debate about whether they're actually good for you or not.
So we had a chat with Jemma O'Hanlon, Accredited Practising Dietitian and Nutritionist to get the low down on potatoes and how you can still enjoy them and be healthy.
Potatoes are rich in carbohydrates and fibre, though their nutrients vary depending on the type and method that they're cooked, generally speaking they're not an unhealthy food.
"Both sweet potatoes and regular potatoes contain carbohydrates to fuel our bodies and boost our mood," says Jemma. "We need carbs in our diet, even if we're trying to lose weight."
However, the downside of regular potatoes is that they are a high GI food, which means they cause a spike in your blood sugar as glucose is released into the blood quickly.
An iconic picture of Obama eating chips. Getty
This can lead to a short-term energy boost leaving you feeling tired and possibly hungry not long after eating.
The way we eat potatoes also gives them a bad rap. After all, when they're deep-fried at Maccas or baked and served with lashings of cheese and sour cream at Sunday lunch, they're not going to do great things for your health, and yet the humble potato always gets the blame.
Gwyneth Paltrow enjoying fries on Jimmy Fallon. Getty
But if you're a carb lover and want something with a lower GI, Jemma has a delicious alternative option.
"Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin A, which gives them their radiant orange colour, vitamin C and niacin, all skin boosting nutrients. Vitamin A and C are also amazing for our immunity, and niacin helps to reduce tiredness and gives us more energy," she says.
"They're also high in dietary fibre, which helps our gut health and reduces the risk of chronic disease."
"However, the healthiest of diets will have a balance of all vegetables and at the end of the day, potatoes hold an important place at the dinner table, just as much as sweet potatoes."
WATCH: How to make sweet potato burgers. Post continues...
Weight gain happens when you consume more energy than your body needs, but because carbs contain half the amount of energy than fats, you're more likely to gain weight on a high-fat diet than a high-carb diet.
This was proved when Andrew 'Spud Fit' Taylor only ate potatoes for a year and lost a whopping 50kg!
For anyone trying to lose weight, it's important to eat a balanced diet that features plenty of fruit, vegetables and wholegrains. Just remember, if you are considering changing your diet or fitness routine, consult your GP or dietitian first.

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