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October 16, 2023
May 20, 2024
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Potatoes, a beloved staple in many cuisines around the world, have long been a source of sustenance and comfort. These versatile tubers come in various shapes and sizes, offering a wide range of culinary possibilities. 

Beyond their culinary appeal, understanding the glycemic index (GI) of potatoes is crucial, especially for individuals managing blood sugar levels and diabetes. 

This article will provide a comprehensive exploration of the glycemic index of different potato varieties, shedding light on how they affect blood sugar and discussing their role in a diabetes-friendly diet.

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Glycemic Index Table

The glycemic index (GI) of a food represents how quickly it raises blood sugar levels compared to a reference food, typically pure glucose. A GI value below 55 is considered low, 56-69 is medium, and 70 or above is high. The GI of potatoes can vary depending on factors like the type of potato and how it's prepared.

For a 100g serving of boiled white potatoes, the GI is around 80-85, which is considered high.¹ Boiling tends to break down the starches, leading to a higher GI than other cooking methods like roasting or steaming. It's important to note that the GI of potatoes can differ between varieties, with some types having lower GI values.

Now, let's calculate the other nutritional values for a 100g serving of boiled white potatoes.

White potatoes contain about 17 grams of carbohydrates per 100g serving.²

The GL takes into account both the GI and the total carbohydrate content of a food. To calculate the GL, you can use the formula: GI x (Carbohydrates per serving / 100) = GL. For boiled white potatoes, the GL per 100g serving would be approximately 80-85 x (17/100) = 13.6-14.5.

Glycemic Index

80

Serving Size

100g

Carbohydrate* per Serving (g)

17 g

GL per Serving

13.00

Nutritional Facts

Potatoes are a nutrient-rich source of carbohydrates, particularly dietary fiber and essential vitamins and minerals. A 100g serving of boiled white potatoes contains approximately 2.2 grams of fiber, 20.1 grams of vitamin C, and 15% of the daily recommended intake of vitamin B6.2 Additionally, they provide potassium, which is important for heart health and maintaining blood pressure.

The nutritional information below is for 100 g of boiled white potatoes.²

Calories

44 kcal

Carbs

9.89 g

Protein

1.2 g

Fiber

2.2 g

Cholesterol

0 mg

Vitamins

B6 (0.14 mg), C (7.6 mg).

Sodium

217 mg

Total Fat

0.11 g

Is Potato Good for Weight Loss?

When included as part of a balanced diet, potatoes can be compatible with weight loss efforts. They are relatively low in calories, with a 100g serving of boiled potatoes containing around 87 calories. However, it's crucial to consider how potatoes are prepared and consumed. Frying or loading potatoes with high-calorie toppings like butter, sour cream, or cheese can significantly increase their calorie content, which may hinder weight loss.

For effective weight management, individuals should choose healthier cooking methods such as boiling, steaming, or baking potatoes without excessive added fats and choose portions that align with their calorie goals. Incorporating potatoes and other nutrient-dense foods like vegetables and lean proteins can contribute to a satisfying and balanced diet supporting weight loss.

It's important to note that individual dietary preferences and needs vary, so consulting with a healthcare provider or registered dietitian for personalized guidance on weight loss strategies is advisable.

Is Potato Safe for People Living with Diabetes?

Potatoes can be a part of a diabetic diet, but their consumption should be approached with caution and in moderation. While potatoes are rich in carbohydrates, which can impact blood sugar levels, their glycemic index (GI) can vary depending on the type of potato and how it's prepared. Boiled or steamed potatoes generally have a lower GI compared to fried or processed potato products.

It's essential for individuals with diabetes to monitor their carbohydrate intake and consider factors like portion size, preparation methods, and overall dietary balance.³ Additionally, pairing potatoes with sources of fiber, protein, and healthy fats can help mitigate the rapid rise in blood sugar levels.³

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Allergies

Allergies to potatoes are relatively rare but can occur. Potato allergies are typically triggered by proteins found in potatoes, with symptoms ranging from mild skin reactions to severe anaphylaxis in rare cases. It's important to note that cooking potatoes can break down some of these allergenic proteins, potentially reducing the risk of an allergic reaction. Individuals with suspected potato allergies should consult a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and guidance on managing their condition.

The proteins responsible for potato allergies are typically found in the skin of the potato, so peeling them before cooking may help reduce the risk of an allergic reaction. Cross-reactivity between potatoes and other foods like tomatoes and bell peppers, which belong to the nightshade family, is possible. For individuals with potato allergies, alternative starch sources like rice, corn, or gluten-free grains can be considered in their diets.

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FAQs

What is Glycemic Index?

The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how quickly a carbohydrate-containing food raises blood sugar levels compared to a reference food, usually glucose. It ranks foods on a scale from 0 to 100, with higher values indicating a faster rise in blood sugar. The glycemic index (GI) scale is typically categorized as follows: Low GI [55 or less], Medium GI [56-69], High GI [70 or higher]. Foods with a high glycemic index digest rapidly and can cause dramatic fluctuations in blood glucose or glucose spikes.

What is Glycemic Load?

Glycemic load (GL) takes into account both the quality (glycemic index) and quantity (carbohydrate content) of carbohydrates in a specific serving of food. It is a measure of how much a particular food will raise blood sugar levels. GL is calculated by multiplying the glycemic index of a food by its carbohydrate content and dividing it by 100. It provides a more accurate representation of the overall impact of a food on blood sugar compared to the glycemic index alone.

Does Potato Spike Insulin?

Yes, potatoes can cause a spike in insulin levels. Potatoes are a high glycemic index food, meaning they can cause a rapid increase in blood sugar levels. This, in turn, triggers the release of insulin from the pancreas to help regulate blood sugar levels. However, the extent of the spike in insulin levels can vary depending on factors such as the type of potato, how it is prepared, and individual differences in metabolism. It is important to consume potatoes in moderation and pair them with other foods that can help slow down the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream.

Is Potato Low Glycemic?

Yes, potatoes have a low glycemic index, meaning they do not cause a rapid spike in blood sugar levels. However, the glycemic index can vary depending on the type of potato and how it is prepared.

Can People Living with Diabetes Eat Potato?

Yes, people living with diabetes can eat potatoes in moderation as part of a balanced diet. However, it is important to consider the portion size and cooking method to avoid spikes in blood sugar levels. Boiling or baking potatoes is a healthier option than frying.

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References

  1. The University of Sydney. (2023, May 1). Glycemic Index – Glycemic Index Research and GI Newshttps://glycemicindex.com/
  2. USDA FoodData Central. (2019, April 1). Food Details - Potatoes, boiled, cooked in skin, flesh, without salt. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170438/nutrients
  3. American Diabetes Association. (n.d.). Potatoes. Retrieved from https://www.diabetes.org/nutrition/healthy-food-choices-made-easy/potatoes 

About the author

It is a long established fact that a reader will be distracted by the readable content of a page when looking at its layout.

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About the author

Brittany Barry is a national board-certified health coach and NASM-certified personal trainer based in South Carolina.

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Please note: The Signos team is committed to sharing insightful and actionable health articles that are backed by scientific research, supported by expert reviews, and vetted by experienced health editors. The Signos blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider. Read more about our editorial process and content philosophy here.

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