July 22nd, 2011

elephant on trampoline

Potatoes are NOT Nutrient Dense Food

I heard the report on NPR this morning. The potato industry is up in arms about revisions to school food programs that specifically limit potatoes. The potato industry rep, and the academic from the University of Idaho, both said that potatoes are nutrient dense. I expected it from the rep, but the academic? Geeze. OK, so let's talk about potatoes. White potatoes. Idaho potatoes. And what exactly it means to be nutrient dense. Generally we talk about something being nutrient dense because it has a high ratio of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and such relative to how many calories it has in it. Potatoes are excluded because they are very high calorie. The skins are where the nutrients are. There's a little nutrition in the starchy meat of a potato, but mostly it is made up of calories. Energy. Potatoes are great high energy food, they elevate the blood sugar immediately, and then an insulin response ideally follows. If you take away the skin, you are taking away most of the vitamin and mineral nutrition. I think most people know this, but it bears restating in the face of the news. I certainly agree that it would make more sense to limit deep fat fryers in schools, or limit potato chips, but really I think what we need to limit is ALL processed and reconstituted potatoes. Potatoes that come in the shape of french fries or tater tots. Convenience potatoes make people fat. Baking them after they have been machine formed and cheap-fat coated does not make them good for you. Those are the ones that kids don't need. If you want to put some potato chunks in their beef stew or yellow curry, more power to you.

Mind you, my favorite new vice is the Salt and Pepper flavor Kettle chips. And I eat them even knowing about Collapse )