There is some confusion about whether or not potatoes are really paleo-friendly and that’s because they are starchy vegetables and they can be highly processed. But the truth is that potatoes have been consumed since ancient times because of their nutritional value and ability to boost energy levels. Because potatoes are pure starch, which will decompose into glucose, they provide healthy fuel for the body – these are the best carbs to eat when on the paleo diet. Remember you want to focus on consuming nutrient dense foods while eliminating foods that will cause inflammation and sensitivities. Well then, that’s exactly what you’re getting with a potato. And yes, some potatoes are used to make highly-processed foods, like French fries and chips, but these foods are not pure potatoes, they have additives that make them unhealthy and not part of the paleo lifestyle. Instead, stick to eating whole potatoes.
Why Are Potatoes Paleo?
Potatoes are paleo because they are a vegetable and complex carbohydrate that the body can use for energy, and they won’t have a major impact on blood sugar levels. Potatoes are also naturally high in nutrients and fiber. A potato is a root vegetable that helps the body to fight diabetes, obesity and inflammation. There are many benefits of replacing grains in your diet with root vegetables. For one thing, root vegetables are gluten-free, and gluten may cause digestive issues and even autoimmune reactions in many people, which is why they aren’t paleo-friendly foods.
Potatoes, and all root vegetables, are unadulterated sources of complex carbohydrates, antioxidants and important nutrients. Potatoes are a great source of B vitamins, especially vitamin B6, which helps to maintain a healthy nervous system, helping to make hemoglobin that carries oxygen in red blood cells throughout the body. Vitamin B6 also uses the food we eat for energy and balances blood sugar levels. Potatoes are high in vitamin C, potassium and manganese as well. Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant, improves mineral absorption and boosts the immune system. Potassium is an essential nutrient that helps the body to maintain fluid and electrolyte balance, keeping the body hydrated and supporting cellular function. Manganese is vital for nutrient absorption, the production of digestive enzymes, immune system defenses and bone development.
The 7 grams of dietary fiber found in one large potato is also very helpful. Fiber aids in digestion and makes you feel full and satisfied after eating, so you aren’t hungry and looking to snack on junk in between meals. For this reason, potatoes and other starchy, root vegetables may actually help you to lose weight. Compared to grains and other sources of carbohydrates, potatoes are lower in calories and lower on the glycemic index, so they don’t spike your blood sugar levels as quickly or drastically. It is believed that potatoes and starchy veggies impact insulin and blood sugar levels at a slower and steadier rate compared to white bread, pasta and grains.
Yes, potatoes do contain carbohydrates and sugar, as do all starchy vegetables, but the health benefits of these root veggies cannot be denied, which is why paleo followers are in favor of adding them into their diets. It’s important to remember that the goal of the paleo diet is not to avoid carbohydrates all together; instead the goal is to eat the best, more nutritious foods possible and to limit the harm done to the body. Most people feel their best when they consume a moderate level of carbs from natural sources and potatoes are a great way to obtain fiber and nutrients too. The need for carbohydrates is especially important for athletes who need the complex carbs for fuel in order to keep energy levels high.
In conclusion, although potatoes are high in carbohydrates, they boast a number of vital vitamins and minerals, and they help the body to use food for energy. When compared to grains and processed carbohydrates, potatoes offer many more health benefits. They are also a good source of fiber, aiding the digestive system. Potatoes are very low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium; plus, one large potato has 7 grams of protein.
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