If you're a spud lover but try to keep your calorie or carbohydrate count to a minimum, the thought that presoaking potatoes might remove carbohydrates could have you cheering. Hold your hurrahs; there is no evidence that soaking potatoes can reduce the starch content of potatoes enough to cause significant carbohydrate reduction. Soaking can remove starch, a type of carbohydrate, but only from the cut surfaces of a potato.
Carbohydrate in Potatoes
A baked potato measuring approximately 2 1/3 by 4 3/4 inches contains around 33 grams of carbohydrate. Nearly all of the potato's nutrition comes from carbohydrate, although the potato also contains around 3 grams of protein and around 0.16 grams of fat. Of the 145 calories in the potato, around 132 come from carbohydrates.
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Starch Loss When Cutting Potatoes
When you cut a potato, a small amount of starch from the potato stays on the cut surface. When you plan to fry the cut potato, removing the starch from the surface has several benefits. The starch left on the surface may brown faster than the inside of the potato cooks, resulting in an undercooked fry. Starch can also cause the potatoes to stick together. Soaking the cut potatoes for at least five minutes or rinsing them under cold water removes the starch from the surface, but there is no evidence that soaking removes a significant amount of carbohydrate.
Other Benefits of Soaking
Soaking potatoes has benefits beyond removing a small amount of starch. Soaking reduce levels of acrylamide, a chemical formed when foods high in starch are fried or cooked at high heat, such as baking or roasting. Acrylamides may contribute to cancer in animals and may have health risks for people. Soaking potatoes cut for french fries for two hours before cooking reduced the level of acrylamide by 48 percent, researchers from Leatherhead Food International reported in the March 2008 issue of the "Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture." Soaking reduced the levels of acrylamide only if the potatoes were lightly fried, though, so don't fry your potatoes until they are dark brown.
If getting rid of carbs -- and thereby calories -- in potatoes were as easy as soaking the potatoes, everyone would know about it. Potatoes are America's favorite vegetable, included in 1 out of every 3 American meals, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health. Around 68 percent of Americans have overweight or obesity, so news that soaking potatoes removed a significant amount of starch and calories would be big news, indeed.
- USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory: Potatoes, Baked, Flesh, Without Salt
- Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture: The Effects of Low-Temperature Potato Storage and Washing and Soaking Pre-Treatments on the Acrylamide Content of French Fries
- Fine Cooking: Fabulous French Fries at Home
- ScienceDaily: Soaking Potatoes In Water Before Frying Reduces Acrylamide
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Obesity and Overweight
- Alabama Cooperative Extension System: Helpful Hints for the Kitchen