Tag Archives: potatoes

Do Potatoes Make You Fat or Diabetic?

Researchers in Denmark say “no.” French fries, maybe.

“The identified studies do not provide convincing evidence to suggest an association between intake of potatoes and risks of obesity, T2D, or CVD. French fries may be associated with increased risks of obesity and T2D although confounding may be present. In this systematic review, only observational studies were identified. These findings underline the need for long-term randomized controlled trials.”

Source: Potatoes and risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease in apparently healthy adults: a systematic review of clinical intervention and observational studies

Some Evidence for Tubers Being Paleolithic Human Food

My impression is that some versions of the paleo diet don’t include tubers.

Here’s part of an abstract at the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences:

Three grinding stones from Shizitan Locality 14 (ca. 23,000-19,500 calendar years before present) in the middle Yellow River region [north China] were subjected to usewear and residue analyses to investigate human adaptation during the last glacial maximum (LGM) period, when resources were generally scarce and plant foods may have become increasingly important in the human diet. The results show that these tools were used to process various plants, including Triticeae and Paniceae grasses, Vigna beans, Dioscorea opposita yam, and Trichosanthes kirilowii snakegourd roots. Tubers were important food resources for Paleolithic hunter-gatherers, and Paniceae grasses were exploited about 12,000 y before their domestication.

Did you catch “grasses” and “beans”? Could these be the verboten grains and legumes?

I know the tubers/roots above are not the white and sweet potatoes I include on my paleo diet. The latter are a New World phenomenon, and domesticated to boot.


What’s the Difference Between White Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes?

The sweet taters have more vitamin A and, at least where I live, they’re more expensive. That’s all.

paleo diet, Steve Parker MD, diabetic diet

Sweet potato chunks brushed with olive oil, salt, pepper, rosemary

Oh, I forgot. Different colors, too.

AncestralChef has the details.

PS: I know a lot of nutrition bloggers and other health nuts use the nutrient database at NutritionData.com. That’s based version 21 of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Nutrient Database. The current version, however, is 25. About two years ago, the focus at NutritionData switched to referral of visitors to Self magazine. For my nutrient analysis, I’ve been using FitDay.com. Or you can go straight to the USDA.

paleo diet, Steve Parker MD

Ready to pop in the oven

The Traveling Sweet Potato

If you like sweet potatoes, ScienceNOW has an interesting article on the travels and domestication of the humble sweet potato.  An excerpt:

Humans domesticated the sweet potato in the Peruvian highlands about 8000 years ago, and previous generations of scholars believed that Spanish and Portuguese explorers introduced the crop to Southeast Asia and the Pacific beginning in the 16th century. But in recent years, archaeologists and linguists have accumulated evidence supporting another hypothesis: Premodern Polynesian sailors navigated their sophisticated ships all the way to the west coast of South America and brought the sweet potato back home with them. The oldest carbonized sample of the crop found by archaeologists in the Pacific dates to about 1000 C.E.—nearly 500 years before Columbus’s first voyage.

Some versions of the paleo diet don’t include white or sweet potatoes, probably because they originated in the New World (particularly Peru).  They wouldn’t have been eaten by our prehistoric ancestors in Africa.  I haven’t done the research yet, but I bet northeast Africa had a starchy tuber roughly equivalent to potatoes.

Steve Parker, M.D.

h/t Ivor Goodbody

Are You Afraid of the Night(shades)?

Rosemary Chicken (garnished with pico de gallo) and Rosemary Potatoes

Rosemary Chicken (garnished with pico de gallo) and Rosemary Potatoes

The nightshade family includes potatoes (not sweet potatoes or yams), tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, goji berries, and even tobacco.  Anecdotal reports indicate that consumption of these either cause or aggravate certain chronic medical conditions, such as arthritis, chronic fatigue, or irritable bowel syndrome.

Georgia Ede, M.D., has an article on medical effects of nightshades at her website.  The potentially offensive chemicals in nightshades are called glycoalkaloids.  I looked into this issue when deciding whether to include potatoes in my version of the paleo diet.  (They’re included).

Dr. Ede’s writes:

As with any food sensitivity, the only way to find out is to remove nightshades from your diet for a couple of weeks or so to see if you feel better.  There are ZERO scientific articles about nightshade sensitivity, chronic pain, or arthritis in the literature, however, the internet is full of anecdotal reports of people who have found that nightshades aggravate arthritis, fibromyalgia, or other chronic pain syndromes.

I bet I could eat a couple potatoes and tomatoes every day without ill effect.  And there’s Chris Voigt, head of the Washington State Potato Commission, famous for his 60-day potato diet.  As they say, your mileage may vary.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Stephan Guyenet on “The Potato Diet”

Dr. Guyenet has a recent post on The Potato Diet.  It caught my eye since I include potatoes in my version of the paleo diet.  He starts thusly:

In 2010, I wrote a series of blog posts on the health properties of potatoes.  The evidence showed that potatoes are non-toxic, filling per calorie, remarkably nutritious, and can be eaten as almost the sole source of nutrition for extended periods of time (though I’m not recommending this).

Follow all of

Rosemary Chicken (garnished with pico de gallo) and Rosemary Potatoes

Rosemary Chicken (garnished with pico de gallo) and Rosemary Potatoes

Dr. Guyenet’s links and you’re sure to learn something new about potatoes.