By LOUISE CARR, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist
The mighty spud is perhaps the ultimate in comfort food. Once a staple of the Western diet, the humble white potato has fallen out of favor recently with the weight-loss brigade.
The bad rap on the potato is that it is solely a carbohydrate of the worst kind.
It doesn’t help that most people consume potatoes in the form of fried chips, or baked and loaded with fatty accompaniments like butter and melted cheese.
But remove the extra fat and prepare potatoes in a healthy way and you’ll be surprised at the result.
White potatoes are easily available at all times of the year and actually make a healthy difference to your diet and your weight loss goals. Still not convinced? Find out more about how white potatoes can actually help you shift the pounds.
Nutritional Benefits of White Potatoes
White potatoes are the most common variety of these edible plant tubers that arrived in the US back in the 16th century when explorers brought them back from their South American expeditions.
Potatoes were once thought to be poisonous. But we now know that they actually contain a whole host of nutrients that boost your diet and may even help you to lose weight.
One medium white potato has around 164 calories, zero cholesterol, 0.2 grams of fat, 4.7 grams of fiber, 37 grams of carbohydrates, and 4.3 grams of protein. Eating one potato provides you with 51 percent of your daily vitamin C, 30 percent of your vitamin B6 requirements, 25 percent of your potassium needs, and 12 percent of your magnesium.
You will also find calcium, niacin, folate, zinc, choline, and phosphorous in the humble potato.
White Potatoes Help You Feel Full --- The "Satiety Index"
Eating white potatoes with a meal will help you lose weight as you feel fuller, and are less likely to overeat with other less healthy foods, according to experts.
Here's the shocker. White potatoes have a higher satiety index than any other food. A 1995 study from the University of Sydney, Australia shows that white potatoes have the highest satiety index score out of 38 different food products including breakfast cereals and bread.
The higher the satiety score, the better the “full feeling” – and the less likely you are to overeat. Potatoes are relatively low in calories so filling up on potatoes with your meal may help you to meet your weight loss goals more quickly.
White Potato Extract Reduces Weight Gain
A 2014 study from McGill University shows that a simple white potato extract may help to limit weight gain from a high-fat diet.
In the study mice were fed an obesity-inducing diet with some also eating a potato extract. These mice gained much less weight than the others.
Scientists believe that the potato extract, which is equivalent to eating 30 potatoes, works because of the high concentration of polyphenols in potatoes. Getting the high dose of nutrients in supplement form is obviously preferable to eating 30 potatoes from a calorie point of view.
You Can Eat Potatoes and Still Lose Weight!
Potatoes have had a bad press in terms of a weight loss diet as many people believe that they are too starchy and actually contribute to an increase in pounds.
But 2010 research from the University of California at Davis and the Illinois Institute of Technology demonstrates that you can enjoy potatoes cooked in a healthy way and still lose weight.
While potatoes are a high glycemic index food, eliminating potatoes from the diet is not as effective as reducing your overall calories when it comes to losing weight.
Researchers looked at 90 overweight people who ate either a reduced calorie, high GI diet, a reduced calorie, low GI diet, or a control diet with no restrictions.
All the groups ate five to seven servings of potatoes per week. At the end of the study, all the groups had lost weight and there was no significant difference between the weight losses of the different groups. However, as a note of caution, this study was actually funded by the United States Potato Board so cannot be classified as wholly objective.
Bonus…Purple Potatoes Decrease Blood Pressure Without Weight Gain
If you’re looking for a colorful potato addition to a weight loss diet, try purple potatoes.
A 2012 study from the University of Scranton shows that eating two small servings of purple potatoes (Purple Majesty) a day decreases blood pressure by around four percent without contributing to weight gain.
This small drop in blood pressure could be enough to ward off danger markers of heart disease. Purple potatoes have high levels of antioxidants and are regarded by folk medicine practitioners in Korea to be instrumental in weight loss.
Are there Any Weight Risks When Eating White Potatoes?
It is important to remember that white potatoes, like any kind of food, only help you lose weight when they are part of a balanced, healthy diet – and you are also being physically active.
Potatoes are not a magic formula for dropping pounds. So, that means potatoes should be boiled or baked or slightly sautéed, not deep-fried and in the form of potato chips and fries. But within a diet that’s full of vegetables, fruit, and low-fat dairy, potatoes could be a valuable weight loss ally.