In this article I would like to start a little discussion today about carbohydrates, in particular “white foods” as well as potatoes. One of the reasons I wanted to mention this is because so many health and fitness professionals dismiss potatoes as being a bad carbohydrate choice because of the so called high glycemic index. Believe it or not potatoes have a medium index. Some people say such ridiculous things as “avoid any and all white carbohydrates”.
OK, now while I certainly agree that white bread and refined white sugar are two of the worst things we can be eating when feeding our bodies. I don’t agree with avoiding any and all of these so called “white carbohydrates”. Now I know all the excitement lately has been about colorful foods and the protective antioxidants that they contain. They tell you to focus on colours and stay away from white.
“White Foods” aren’t always the enemy
It’s true that colourful foods are great, but it is generally a mistake to specifically avoid white foods! There are plenty of white foods that have specific nutrients that are hard to find elsewhere. Let’s look at a few examples…
Onions & Garlic
What about onions and garlic? They are both white and they are full of protective phytonutrients, vitamins, and trace minerals. These aren’t easy to find elsewhere in a normal diet. Such nutrients as chromium, allicin, quercetin (an important flavonoid), and other unique anti-inflammatory nutrients.
In fact, onions are so powerful for our health, that one study of people that live to over 100 years old. Identified that a common thread of these amazingly healthy individuals was, that they ate a lot of onions throughout their lives. We also know that garlic is one of the most powerful substances for a strong immune system.
Another example of something white that is great for you is cauliflower. Which are surprisingly high in vitamin C, fiber, trace minerals, special compounds such as glucosinolates which are anti cancer in nature, and thiocyanates (a lack of which can damage a persons immune system). These are specifically abundant in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. Another little-known fact is that some of the compounds in cruciferous vegetables, help to combat other estrogenic compounds in our food supply and environment and can help prevent excess abdominal fat. So eat up on that cauliflower!
Not many people realize this, but surprisingly, even white mushrooms have high levels of unique nutrients and antioxidants. White mushrooms are high in a couple types of antioxidants called polyphenols and ergothioneine. Some types of mushrooms, such as portobella mushrooms, are surprisingly good sources of Vitamin D.
Now that also leads us to another example – the humble white potato (which by the way, can also be found in red, yellow, purple varieties, etc). Many health professionals claim that potatoes are a bad carbohydrate because they are thought to have a high glycemic index. If you’ve read my Truth about Six Pack Abs ebook, then you’ll understand that glycemic index is not necessarily the most important factor in choosing your carbohydrates.
While a generalization can be made that most low glycemic index carbohydrate choices will help you lose body fat more easily than higher index choices. It is not all that it’s cracked up to be. There are many other factors that determine how your body will react-to and process the carbohydrates you ingest. Such as glycemic load and also how you combine the high GI food with other foods.
For example, it is known that watermelon has a high glycemic index. However the rise in blood sugar of a normal serving of watermelon is just too low for your body to start packing on body fat, just because you ate a high index fruit. You would have to eat such an enormous quantity of watermelon just to get enough grams of carbohydrates to have any negative glycemic effect, that it just does not make any sense.
Not to mention that watermelon is also a great source of vitamins, minerals, and lycopene. There’s just no reason to avoid it simply because it has a high Glycemic Index. The point I am making is that, chocolate bars, cupcakes, and donuts make you fat. Because they are full of sugar. NOT watermelons, carrots or potatoes. French fries are excluded of course.
I also should mentioned, food combinations are important in how your body processes the carbohydrates and the associated blood sugar and insulin response you receive. Again, I will talk about this in detail about the entire topic in my Truth about Six Pack Abs book, from a weight loss perspective.
Alright, so back to my point that white potatoes are actually a healthy carbohydrate as long as you eat them in the right form – that’s with the entire skin left on. Please don’t ruin them by deep frying them into french fries either. French fries are one of the most evil things ever invented for your health. Because we ruin them by soaking them in a scorching bath of trans fats in the deep fryer from the hydrogenated oils that are typically used.
Keep in mind that potatoes contain so many vitamins and minerals that the list is way too long to even try. If you eat the skins, you’ll get some fiber too.
Are eating 7-9 potatoes per day going to make you fatter?
There was a study which found that potatoes not being so bad after all. I cant remember where I saw this referenced. But I recently saw a particular study that had participants eat something like 7-9 whole potatoes per day for several weeks. Here’s a good newspaper article on why potatoes are good for you.
At the conclusion of the study, the potato eaters had actually consistently lost weight! I’d venture a guess that the reason the people lost weight is that they were probably so full from eating all of those potatoes, that they actually consumed less calories than normal. An average sized potato has about 100-120 calories, and I can’t imagine you’d be full constantly from eating 7-9 potatoes each day.
Of course, this does NOT mean that french fries are ok to eat. Those will only make you fat, and the trans fat will lead to an early death. Seriously french fries / potato chips are one of the most deadly foods in our food supply. Deep fried potatoes accumulate dangerous acrylamides absorbed from the frying oil that reacts with the starch, and these compounds are cancer causing.
Anyway, back to the 7-9 whole potatoes per day. I would never recommend going to those extremes, but my point is that an occasional potato is not going to hurt your efforts to get lean, and lose weight. Especially if you combine it with some other fibrous vegetables, and maybe a healthy fat, and some protein. On that note, here is one of my favorite recipes, using potatoes.
Geary’s Lean-Body Potato Side Dish Recipe
Desired quantity of baby potatoes, preferably a mixture of white, red, yellow, and purple baby potatoes.
1 red pepper.
1 green pepper.
1 yellow pepper.
1 or 2 onions.
a couple cloves of garlic, finely chopped (or mashed garlic from a jar, organic preferably).
1 or 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil and / or virgin coconut oil.
a little salt and pepper to taste (I like using a sea salt instead of normal commercial salt).
Cut the baby potatoes into slightly smaller pieces and place in a steamer until soft all the way through. Slice up the peppers and onions into strips and add with the chopped garlic into a pan with the olive oil. Cook the peppers, onions, and garlic until tender, and then add the steamed baby potatoes. Stir it all together and serve. This is a truly delicious, and healthy side dish that goes great with chicken or red meat.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this little topic today about potatoes, healthy carbohydrates, glycemic index, and my delicious healthy potato recipe. If you want more recipes like this get a copy of my book Truth about Six Pack Abs, which is full of information on weight loss and how to get lean and fit.