Carb lovers rejoice! This delectable starch, long a guilty pleasure, just might be a secret weapon when trying to “lose weight with little effort.”
Researchers have discovered the surprising health benefit of potatoes — as it turns out, these spuds are incredibly nutrient-dense and could be a crucial “part of a healthy diet,” according to a new study by researchers at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
The root vegetable has long been snubbed as too starchy for people with insulin resistance, and was once thought of as a contributor to type 2 diabetes. But the tater’s bad rap might be rectified now that scientists claim it can be part of the ideal diet.
This is great news for those who loaded up on grandma’s famous mashed potatoes over Thanksgiving, or who over-indulge in carbs at holiday feasts come December and New Year’s.
Because the starch is low calorie but very filling, researchers found that filling a plate full of potatoes can contribute to a shrinking waistline.
“People tend to eat the same weight of food regardless of calorie content in order to feel full,” professor Candida Rebello, a co-author of the study, told SWNS. “By eating foods with a heavier weight that are low in calories, you can easily reduce the number of calories you consume.”
The study included 36 people between the ages of 18 and 60 who were overweight, obese or had insulin resistance. Participants were given two different diets, both high in fruits and veggies and swapped 40% of the typical American meat consumption with beans, peas or potatoes.
Beans have been touted as a diabetes superfood, as doctors once crowned the legume the best at keeping blood sugars stable — but these researchers were putting that theory to the test.
“The key aspect of our study is that we did not reduce the portion size of meals but lowered their caloric content by including potatoes,” Rebello continued. “Each participant’s meal was tailored to their personalized calorific needs, yet by replacing some meat content with potato, participants found themselves fuller, quicker and often did not even finish their meal.”
Rebello’s buzz quote: “In effect, you can lose weight with little effort.”
Potatoes contain vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium, magnesium, folate and fiber, which all promote health, and have also been found to have antioxidants.
The potatoes were boiled — with the skins on — then placed in the fridge for 12 to 24 hours to maximize their fiber. The spuds were then included in lunch and dinner for the participants in the form of mashed potatoes, shepherd’s pie, wedges, salad and scalloped.
Upon nutrient comparison, scientists discovered potatoes were just as healthy as beans and peas.
“We demonstrated that contrary to common belief, potatoes do not negatively impact blood glucose levels,” Rebello stated. “In fact, the individuals who participated in our study lost weight.”
The study, which was published in the Journal of Medical Food, confirmed that people can still maintain a healthy diet and indulge in some potatoes, challenging what was previously believed about the once-damned starch.
“People typically do not stick with a diet they don’t like or isn’t varied enough,” the professor continued. “The meal plans provided a variety of dishes, and we showed that a healthy eating plan can have varied options for individuals striving to eat healthy.”
Obviously carb lovers can’t only chow down on potatoes, but foregoing them altogether also isn’t necessary. In fact, potatoes are “fairy inexpensive” and are easily incorporated into everyday meals.
Dr. John Kirwan, the study’s lead investigator and the executive director of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, used the study to research the effects of food on diabetes and obesity, saying there is more to know about “complex disease” and how to solve it.
“Obesity is an incredibly complex disease that we are tackling on three different fronts: research that looks at how and why our bodies react the way they do, research that looks at individual responses to diet and physical activity, and policy-level discussions and community programs that bring our research into strategies our local and global communities can use to live healthier lives,” he said. “These new data on the impact of potatoes on our metabolism is an exciting addition to the arsenal of evidence we have to do just that.”