There was a time when eating potatoes was frowned upon if you were trying to lose weight. They were cast in a bad light. But the calorific values do depend greatly on how they are cooked. Here are the calories for 200 grams of potatoes cooked in three common ways:
Chip shop chips – 428
Roast potatoes – 322
Boiled/steamed – 136
And as for health benefits nothing could be further from the truth! Potatoes can help calm inflammation, reduce blood pressure and decrease cholesterol.
The study on food satiety in Australia (see article: How to feel full for longer) showed that eating 240 cals of boiled potatoes can keep you full for over three times the equivalent calories in white bread. Potatoes were also the most satiating food they tested.
The fact is; potatoes are extremely nutritious, being a rich source of fibre, vitamin C and potassium. Used in the right way they are an aid to weight loss – not a hindrance.
Gram-for-gram potatoes contain far fewer calories than most other starch sources: 50% fewer calories than pasta and 70% less than white bread.
When it comes to the speed at which potatoes release their energy this is measured on the Glycaemic Index. The Glycaemic Index (GI) ranges up to 100%. Foods with a high number (glucose is 100%) release their energy rapidly. Foods with a low number (below 55%) release their energy over a longer period of time.
With potatoes a lot does depend on the variety. If you are a marathon runner and you need a quick energy hit after a race you could try a baked Maris Piper (GI 85).
On the other hand if you are wanting to stay fuller for longer try the Charlotte potato (GI 66). King Edwards and Desiree potatoes are almost the same with a GI of 77 and 75 respectively.
About half of the healthy phytonutrients in potatoes are found in the fibre rich skin. It therefore helps to eat smaller potatoes where the ratio of skin to flesh is higher. The indigestible nature of the skin also slows the absorption of the carbohydrate lowering the GI – so don’t peel potatoes!
Studies show that microwaving potatoes (skin on) is best for preserving nutrients followed by boiling and steaming.
The nutrients in potatoes, called polyphenols, help the body by promoting good bacteria in the gut and fighting off the bad bacteria. Polyphenols can also activate your immune system to fight infection.
Potato magic trick!
There is a simple trick you can do with potatoes which:
1. Slashes the calories
2. Reduces blood sugar impact by as much as 37%
3. Reduces the GI from high to low
Simply cook them the night before and put them in the fridge for 24 hours. The chilling effect over this period causes some of the starch molecules to expand and crystallise. This creates a modified starch which can no longer be digested by the human body – even if reheated. As if by magic the transformation converts calorie-rich carbs into healthy fibre!
So you not only take less calories onboard but you help your microbiome too!
Here is a lovely potato salad Polly made earlier…(YUM!)