Whether you’re in a home in San Antonio, Texas, or a restaurant across America, there’s a keen focus on main dishes and soups that start with potatoes. It’s one of America’s favorite foods. While potatoes aren’t the healthiest option for those with diabetes, it doesn’t mean you have to completely give up potatoes. Potatoes do have many health benefits. They are a good source of fiber, rich in B vitamins and potassium. While they are high in carbs, there’s no reason to assume you can’t eat them if you’re diabetic, but do have to consider many things, especially frequency, serving size, preparation and the effect on blood sugar levels.
How do potatoes affect blood sugar levels?
Potatoes, like all carbs, can cause an increase in blood sugar levels. As they break down, they become simple sugars and when those sugars end up in the blood stream, they can cause a spike. In most people, it’s not a problem, but for diabetics, the process doesn’t always occur as smoothly. The sugar remains longer in circulation without entering into cells. That can lead to high blood sugar levels and poor management of diabetes and complications.
You need to consider the entire diet when considering potatoes.
The potato isn’t the only carbohydrate in the diet for most people. There are many other types of carbs and it’s the total amount that needs to be considered. You also have to consider how the potato is prepared. If you ate it raw, you’d only have 11.8 grams in a half cup serving, while microwaved potatoes contain 18.2 grams and deep-fried (America’s favorite French fries) contain 36.5 grams per half cup.
Consider the potato as part of your meal when calculating carbs.
You are going to have a difference in the number of carbohydrates per potato, based on the size of the potato, so portion control is extremely important when making calculations. However, the potato is only one contributor to the number of carbohydrates eaten. Consider the amount of carbohydrates compared to other foods, such as a small apple that’s 20.6 carbohydrates compared to a small potato that’s 30.
- When choosing your meals, consider this. If you substitute a cup of cooked rice for a potato, you’re only saving about 2 grams of carbohydrates. However, comparing a potato to a can of cola, which is 38.5 grams, eating a baked or boiled potato could be a big carbohydrate savings.
- The variety of potato makes a huge difference in the GI—glycemic index—and the GL—glycemic load. Boiled potatoes are better than fries, while Nicola or Carisma potatoes are better than Russet when you consider the GL.
- You can lower both the GI and GL of a potato by leaving the skins on, which adds extra fiber. Adding vinegar or lemon juice also does it, as does consuming potatoes with fats and proteins, which slow the digestion, keeping the rise in blood sugar lower.
- Eliminating fried potatoes, such as hash browns or potato chips, reduce unhealthy fats. People with existing diabetes are already at risk for heart disease and other risks posed by fat, so minimizing this type of food is important.
For more information, contact us today at Iron Fit San Antonio