Americans consume more potatoes than all other crops besides wheat, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, making it the most important vegetable crop in the country. Although they provide significant amounts of fiber and nutrients, including vitamin C and potassium, potatoes might cause adverse effects in some people. Gaining an understanding of these effects might inspire you to make wise dietary decisions. If potatoes seem to upset your system, seek guidance from your doctor or dietitian.
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Blood Sugar Effects
Potatoes, particularly peeled potatoes, have a high glycemic index, meaning they might dramatically impact your blood sugar. After eating a high-glycemic meal, your blood sugar and insulin rise higher than they do after eating low-glycemic fare. Because of this, eating potatoes in large quantities or on their own might increase your risk of blood sugar imbalances, poor appetite control, type 2 diabetes and diabetes complications. Potato chips and french fries are also high-glycemic. To guard against blood sugar imbalances, consume potatoes with the peels on with low-glycemic foods, such as whole grains or low-fat milk.
If potatoes offset your blood sugar levels, you might experience increased hunger between meals, which can lead to overeating and weight gain. Preparing potatoes with popular high-fat toppings, such as butter, cheese, bacon and sour cream, add significant amounts of fat and calories to your diet, which might also contribute to weight gain. Fried potatoes and potato chips are also rich in fat and calories. In a study published in the "New England Journal of Medicine" in June 2011, the dietary habits and weight gain in 120,877 non-obese adults were followed between 1986 and 2006. Researchers found that participants gained an average of 3.35 pounds within every four-year period. Weight increases were most strongly associated with intake of potato chips, potatoes, fatty meats and sugary beverages.
All starches except for rice stimulate gas during digestion, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. Although foods affect people's gas symptoms differently, potatoes might trigger gas, gas pain and bloating, particularly if you are prone to gas and sensitive to the sugars that occur naturally in starches. Eating high-fat potato dishes, overeating potatoes or eating too quickly might cause similar effects.
Although it remains unproven, some people believe that nightshade vegetables, which include tomatoes, peppers and white potatoes, trigger inflammation and joint pain. If potatoes are stored improperly, these effects are believed to increase, according to "Prescription for Dietary Wellness" by Phyllis Balch, because natural inflammatory substances known as glycoalkaloids increase. Unripe potatoes are also high in glycoalkaloids.
- Food Review: Fast Food Growth Boosts Frozen Potato Consumption
- Linus Pauling Institute: Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load
- New England Journal of Medicine: Changes in Diet and Lifestyle and Long-Term Weight Gain in Women and Men
- National Digestive Disease Information Clearinghouse: Gas in the Digestive Tract