Diet Info and Myths about Potatoes
The potato is the most popular vegetable in America. It's easy to understand the popularity of potatoes. They're fat-free, low in calories, high in vitamin C and potassium, and provide a good source of vitamin B6 and fiber. In addition to being nutritious and great tasting, potatoes can be prepared in a variety of ways and are loved by adults and kids, alike.
Potatoes & "The Zone": Debunking the Myth
With the myriad of high-protein, low carbohydrate diets in the news today, it's easy to become confused and wonder if their weight-loss claims are really valid. The premise of these diets, including Barry Sears' "The Zone" and Robert Atkins' "Dr. Atkins New Diet Revolution," is that carbohydrates cause weight gain by releasing insulin, which stores fat. Instead of eating carbohydrates, advocates say we should eat proteins, which will suppress our appetites and help us lose weight. So what do most experts say?
The September'98 issue of the Women's Health Advisor says that the vast majority of Americans already eat twice the protein they need and reports that most nutritionists consider these diets nutritionally inadequate and dangerous.
The UC Berkeley Wellness Letter (June '98) refers to "The Zone" as the "Twilight Zone," and says the diet is certainly not a lifelong eating plan. A recently published guide from the American College of Sports Medicine, The American Diabetic Association, the Women's Sports Foundation, and Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research says "The Zone" diet is based on "unfounded ideas" and "an appalling oversimplification of complex physiological processes." Many high-protein, low carbohydrate dieters will undoubtedly lose weight in the short term; but only because the diets are calorie restrictive and the losses are mainly fluid losses, not fat losses. If you're considering any type of diet, you should speak with your physician. The American Dietetic Association can also help locate a registered dietitian in your area to help assist in developing a healthy eating plan.
Potatoes are Rich in Antioxidants
Widely known for its complex carbohydrate and vitamin C content, potatoes are also a great source of other antioxidants that may potentially fight cancer, heart disease and a number of other diseases. Researchers at Texas A&M University reported that the antioxidant activity of potatoes, when compared with that of broccoli, onions, carrots and bell peppers, was higher than all except broccoli. (Journal of Food Science March/April '95)
Potatoes: Satisfaction Guaranteed
Researchers at the university of Sydney studying how filling foods were, studied 38 different foods that were broken down into six categories: fruits, bakery products, snack foods, protein-rich foods, carbohydrate-rich foods and breakfast cereals.
Potatoes ranked the highest, seven times higher than that of croissants, the least-filling food. More importantly, the researchers found that the satiety was a good predictor of how much food was eaten at the next meal. Simple "whole" foods, such as fruits, potatoes, fish and steak were the most satiating foods. So, for those trying to diet or maintain a current weight, they should be increasing their intake of "filling" foods - those that provide the most satisfaction for the least amount of calories. Further research is needed to confirm these findings and to look at the effects of other foods and food preparation techniques on satiety. In the meantime, remember that nutrient rich potatoes are low in calories and fat-free. That's reason enough to keep eating America's favorite vegetable.