Would Amanda Eat It?

My final Would Amanda Eat It? of the month (don’t worry – I’ll be back in March!) focuses on one of the humblest, most unassuming of foods.  It’s not from a package, processed in any way, or sold in a convenience story.

It’s a potato.

Yep, just plain ‘ol white (Russet) potatoes.  When Atkins came on the scene in the late 90s / early 2000s, white potatoes got thrown into the “devil foods” list along with white rice, white pasta, and white bread.  Avoid the white stuff, went the message, and you’ll lose weight.  It sounded like a good plan, but…

Could something from the earth truly be that bad for you?

I remember growing up and going to restaurants where your side options were french fries, mashed potatoes, or a baked potato, and being told that the baked potato was the “healthy” option.  I also remember entering the fitness industry and hearing the message that anyone who “still eats” white potatoes versus sweet potatoes was a fat idiot.

So what’s the deal with our old friends, white potatoes?  Here’s my two cents:

The good:

  • a medium sized white potato only has about 160 calories, which is less than a Quest bar, two slices of cheese, or 1/2 cup of pasta
  • white potatoes contain flavonoids (which aid in immune system function) and potassium (an essential mineral)
  • if you eat the skin (which you absolutely SHOULD!), you’ll get a bonus 4g fiber

The bad:

  • sure, white potatoes still “count” as a major carb serving – 29g in a medium size, which is like two slices of bread, two small apples, or 1/2 cup of pasta
  • white potatoes, despite being tubers in the same class as sweet potatoes, have significantly fewer vitamins to offer than their orange-fleshed brethren
  • this goes without saying, but outside a “baked” preparation (where only heat is applied), there are a lot of easy ways to make a white potato unhealthy (adding butter, cheese, sour cream, or frying in oil, to name a few)

The verdict:

  • Peeps, I’ve been eating white taters for years and ain’t no way I’m gonna stop now.  They are an excellent source of natural (read: unprocessed) carbohydrates, which are great for active, healthy adults, and eating the flesh and skin together makes for a super-filling, super-tasty, super-satisfying snack that won’t break the calorie bank.
  • Make sure that when cooking white potatoes you boil, bake, or steam them – and add fresh herbs rather than salt, butter, and oil – and if you’re a “white potato only” type of person, read on for why you might want to come over to the sweet side…

The alternative:

  • Per the above…sweet potatoes still come out the nutritional winner here.  They have similar amounts of fiber and protein (again, eat the skin!) but give you an extra boost of vitamin A and beta-carotene, all with fewer calories and carbs than the white stuff
  • If you’re simply trying to watch the carbs and calories, mashed cauliflower is a fantastic potato substitute that gives you the same satiety and “mouthfeel” without any of the aforementioned “bad” parts – so it’s worth a try if you’re watching your macros really closely

Do you eat white potatoes – or do you prefer sweet?  What’s your fave way to cook ’em?

3 thoughts on “Would Amanda Eat It?

  1. I never met a potato I didn’t like. And kudos for mentioning the skin is the best, most nutritious part. Nothing beats a nice dollop of perfectly prepared garlic mashed potatoes. But roasted sweet potatoes with olive oil, salt, pepper, and a bit of nutmeg and cinnamon is hard to beat, too.



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