Do you have potato-blood? I hope not because that would mean that you are terribly ill. It’s an old expression, apparently. But I digress; are potatoes really that unhealthy to eat? And do they fit in with a paleo diet?
If you read a lot of Paleo blogs, I'm sure you’ll have noticed that opinions vary significantly… here are some of the viewpoints…
Paleolithic or a bit younger?
Potatoes are a contentious subject when it comes to the paleo diet. Strictly speaking they don’t fit the bill, at least not at first sight. Cultivation of vegetables started the Neolithic era, and consuming potatoes is most likely developed during this period, not before. Raw potatoes are not the most delicious food you've ever had; you need to cook them before they become more edible (although some people do eat them raw, it’s not advisable).
A potato is also a ‘nightshade’, which would not have come into existence before the Neolithic period, like tomatoes and eggplant. Paleolithic people would not have eaten them, simply because they were not around. But we can’t be sure about this. And anyway – Paleo is a science – not a re-enactment, after all!
The fact that some people are not able to fully digest a potato, can lead to the theory that we never adapted to these foods, and therefore, are not supposed to eat them. The paleo theory that some people follow “if you can’t eat it raw, it’s not paleo” seems to be valid here. Whilst regular potatoes and white potatoes are not edible in their raw forms, sweet potatoes are (but again, I wouldn't advise it!)
Potatoes and your health
Potatoes consist mainly of starch, which isn't very good for people that are insulin resistant. Although they are a ‘pure food’, it needs to be cooked to become edible. Further processing is not necessary, as it would be in the case of grains (a much easier to define Paleo no-no).
Potatoes are 100% carbohydrate. This will increase your insulin, which is fine for some people. Athletes and those who train hard are often able to eat potatoes almost every day and have no problems with them. Potatoes are a very healthy source of carbs to refill and refuel your body (especially compared to grains and other refined carbs for example). So, it completely depends on you; but if you’re overweight, already insulin resistant, and your body isn't good in coping with glucose – then I’d leave the potatoes alone.
Whether or not you think that you should, or should not, include potatoes into your diet is completely up to you. It is very likely that the Paleolithic humans did eat raw potatoes.
If you are already overweight, it is probably best to avoid them. Because they are so carb heavy, it’s better to leave them alone and replace them with other paleo foods that are just as nutritious, but with less carbs.
If you are sensitive to nightshades, be careful. Nightshades can cause serious bowel and digestive problems to people who are sensitive.
Should you consider to have potatoes in your diet, you might like to consider the points below:
- Peel the potato! Most of the toxins are located in the skin. Removing the skin, removes the risk
- Buy organic potatoes. Potatoes have the tendency to suck up the toxins from the ground. Since the modern human uses toxins to make foods grown, it’s better to buy organic potatoes that are not drenched in them.
- Green potatoes are bad. They contain saponins, which are toxic. Don’t eat the green ones!
- Potatoes break down to glucose. When you are trying to lose weight, potatoes are definitely banned from the menu.
I’d be very interested to hear what you think about Potatoes and Paleo? Do you eat them? Or avoid them altogether? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!