What kind of potato do you plan to serve this Thanksgiving? Possible choices run the gamut from white to orange to purple. There are also many possible ways to prepare your potatoes from mashed to fried to baked. Which potato is the most nutritious and which method is the healthiest way of preparing potatoes?
White potatoes are very high in glycemic index and are one of the most fattening whole foods. For instance, mashed white potatoes have a glycemic index close to pure glucose. Also, in a study looking at the weight gain potential of over fifteen categories of food, potatoes and potato chips topped the list at numbers one and two.
Compared to white potatoes, sweet potatoes provide significantly greater amounts of essential vitamins and minerals. Sweet potatoes are a rich source of vitamins A and C, and are a good source of fiber. Sweet potatoes are also a good source of the antioxidant beta carotene, which gives sweet potatoes their orange color.
In general, sweet potatoes are lower in glycemic index than white potatoes, but this can vary depending on what you add to and how you cook your sweet potato. Many recipes for sweet potatoes include added sweeteners such as brown sugar, maple syrup, or marshmallows. Why these recipes insist on drowning out the natural sweetness of a sweet potato with the deafening notes of these added sweeteners is beyond me. They're called sweet potatoes for a reason!
The method you use to cook your sweet potato can also alter its glycemic index. One study tested the glycemic responses to cooking potatoes in different ways--roasting, baking, frying, and boiling. This study found that sweet potatoes prepared by baking or roasting were associated with the highest glycemic indices, around eighty. On the other hand, sweet potatoes prepared by boiling had the lowest glycemic indices, around forty. In this video, I show you how to make a sweet potato puree for your baby and a spicy sweet potato chili for your toddler, courtesy of Kristen Leidelmeijer, the personal chef who helps my patients eat healthier:
Click to Tweet : http://bit.ly/17YQGhu
Click to Facebook : http://on.fb.me/I95gwe
So this Thanksgiving, consider skipping the white potatoes altogether and try some sweet potatoes. Consider boiling your sweet potatoes and skip the brown sugar and maple syrup. Now that's a sweet meal that you can be thankful for!
Mozaffarian D et al. Changes in Diet and Lifestyle and LongTerm Weight Gain in Women and Men. N Engl J Med 2011;364:2392-404.
Atkinson FS et al. International tables of glycemic index and glycemic load values: 2008. Diabetes Care 2008 Dec 31(12):2281-3
Bahado-Singh PS et al. Relationship between processing method and the glycemic indices of ten sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) cultivars commonly consumed in Jamaica. J Nutr & Met 2011:1-6.