10 ways to lower the glycemic index of potatoes
Nutritionally, potatoes have a bad rap, particularly when we think about potato chips and French fries. Potatoes, however, do have significant nutritional value. They are high in Vitamin C, B6, B12, fiber, potassium and a host of minerals. Potatoes also contain kukoamines, a substance that lowers blood pressure. So are potatoes a good nutritional choice? It depends on how you prepare them and eat them.
The concern over high glycemic foods
Potatoes by themselves have a high Glycemic Index (GI). High glycemic index foods are a concern because they are digested quickly causing spikes in blood insulin levels, which increases the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
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It is not just about potatoes
The glycemic indexes are calculated based on eating a food in isolation. What is more relevant is what happens when you eat a meal. There are several food combinations that significantly lower the glycemic index of potatoes. In other words, you can slow the rate of digestion down when you eat potatoes with other foods. To lower the overall GI of potatoes, eat them with:
- Fat - Olive oil, butter, sour cream or avocados will lower the GI. This makes a fully loaded baked potato interesting again.
- Acid - Vinegar, citrus or salsa lowers the GI of a potato.
- Protein - Eating potatoes in combination with protein also lowers GI, making steak and potatoes a better choice than potatoes alone.
- Fiber - Adding other fiber-rich foods to a potato slows down digestion and lowers GI. So eat a romaine or kale salad with your potatoes.
- Other low GI foods - Eating a combination of foods, including lower GI foods, reduces the combined GI load of a meal that includes potatoes.
It is also how you prepare the potatoes
- Eat the skin - Eating the skin of the potato not only adds vitamin C, but also fiber, and fiber helps lower the GI index.
- Cook and cool - An interesting study found cooking a potato and then cooling it before you eat it also lowers GI, even if you later reheat the potato.
- Boil - Boiling a potato results in a lower GI than baking.
And the type of potato
- Waxy potatoes have lower GI than floury russet potatoes.
- Sweet potatoes have even lower GI.
The bottom line on potatoes
Potatoes are economical, have significant nutritional value, and let's face it, potatoes can be downright delicious. Prepare your potatoes smartly and pair them with foods that lower GI.