May 5, 2017; by Paul Fassa (Silver Bullet e-News Magazine) What if I told you potatoes are healthy and are good survival foods? Chris Voight was the executive director of the Washington State Potato Commission in 2010 and he was fed up with the negative attitudes about potatoes and the nutritional bad press parroted by the media. So he had a point to prove. Due to his losing weight and having improved health markers from blood testing, his experience went viral at that time.
His final indignation was ignited by the by the federal WIC (Women, Infants and Children) low-income assistance program’s decision to remove potatoes from the list of vegetables it will pay for. That’s why he went on a controlled 60 day potato only diet.
He did this on with a variety of 20 potatoes daily, cooked differently with healthy oils and seasoned lightly but not smothered with butter or sour cream or bacon bits. Amazingly, Chris’s 60 day potato fast or diet was done without supplements, and his health profile after the 60 days was as amazing.
He shed 21 pounds of weight, mostly fat, his fasting glucose decreased considerably, his serum triglycerides were cut in half, his HDL (“good” cholesterol) count raised slightly, and his LDL (considered the bad cholesterol) dropped by almost half also. The changes in those levels indicated an improve insulin sensitivity.
Diabetes type 2 is created by decreased or very little insulin sensitivity. The pancreatic insulin count can be high, but the cells are not accepting the insulin needed to escort glucose into the cells to be metabolized into energy. Thus free floating sugar remains in the blood instead of being utilized by the cells’ need for glucose and one’s blood sugar goes higher.
Misguided Potato Perceptions
Potatoes are considered foods to avoid, except for sides of fries offered by restaurants of all types and potato chips. Those are the unhealthiest form of potatoes offered and the most consumed.
In 2004, filmmaker Morgan Spurlock produced the popular documentary “Super Size Me”, in which he experimented with the results of fast food consumption by eating only at McDonald’s three times daily.
After four weeks, Spurlock was not only overweight, but his physician warned him that he was endangering his health after analyzing his blood tests.
Yet because of Chris’s experiment with the 60 day potato only diet, a handful of other individuals followed his lead with somewhat shorter potato only diets, usually around 30 days, also with amazingly healthy boosting weight loss results.
Conventionally grown potatoes should not be consumed due to their high exposure of toxic materials. And who knows when the biotech people will come up with another GMO version of a particular potato. Conventionally grown potatoes are not part the EWG (Environmental Working Group) “Clean 15 List”.
Most consumers are overly concerned with potatoes starchy content and high glycemic index (GI) an index of the conversion of food in the body to blood sugar within a short time after consuming it.
Many nutritionists and doctors agree that too many GI spikes lead to a wide variety of health issues, especially diabetes type 2.
So how come Chris Voight’s markers indicated less risk for diabetes 2? In a clinical trial reported December 17, 2015 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Harvard Medical School found little to no evidence to support those claims for normally healthy eating people.
Potatoes’ Overlooked Nutrition
What’s ignored is the fact that potatoes contain all 22 amino acids to form complete proteins after easy digesting. Consuming the amino acids makes for easier protein absorption than the digestive effort of breaking down the complete proteins into biochemically usable amino acids from meat and dairy.
Potatoes are a high source of potassium, even more than bananas, and are rich in other minerals. They are also rich in Vitamin C and B6. More importantly, using state of the art analysis equipment, Agricultural Research Service plant geneticist Roy Navarre has identified 60 different kinds of phytochemicals in the skins and flesh of a wide variety of potatoes.
Some potatoes’ phenolic levels rival those of broccoli and spinach. Others contain high amounts of folate, quercetin and kukoamines. Only one other food contains all three of those compounds, the praised nutrient dense gogi berries. Potatoes are antioxidant dense as well.
Some say the skins are poisonous, even though they contain a high concentration of potatoes’ nutrients. They are alluding to a poison inherent in the potato’s leaves and stems to ward off foraging animals and insects, the alkaloid solanine.
This skin hazard is mostly applicable to wild potatoes, but cultivated potatoes don’t have that risk unless part of the skin is green and covered with sprouts. It may be wise to avoid that whole potato, even though it takes a hefty amount of solanine to experience an immediate toxic reaction. So eating organically grown potato skins that are not restaurant deep fat fried is recommended.
Potato History in a Nutshell
Potatoes were the main staple of indigenous South American highland natives for centuries. They were not obese or metabolically impaired. The Spanish conquistadors grabbed a few along with tons of gold and silver and took them back to Europe. They discovered that eating potatoes prevented scurvy!
Slowly, various forms of potato meals became popular among peasants in several European nations. British rule prohibited Irish Catholics from owning land. They had to rent small plots from Anglo-Protestant owners and grow potatoes to survive. They survived until the Irish potato famine in the mid-19th Century, which some historians claim the British created artificially.
That’s a survival clue. Lots of potatoes can be grown in a small area, all year round in areas that are mostly frost free, and it takes only a few to make a meal. As mentioned earlier, even store bought potatoes maintain their freshness stored for several days or more, depending on freshness, in a pantry or closet. Freshly home grown potatoes last even longer in storage.
Growing your own food and neighborhood growing is gradually catching on. You can find out more by Googling “home grown potatoes” and “planting potatoes”. Growing edible potatoes in patio planters and window flower boxes has been demonstrated as a possible alternative as well.