There’s a new health enemy #1. It’s not new to you and me, but to the mainstream, it’s absolutely shocking.
It’s not sugar, it’s not cholesterol and it’s not even saturated fat.
No…this enemy is actually an old friend. Heck, it’s one we always invited to Thanksgiving dinner.
I’m talking about the simple potato.
And simple is definitely the operative word here — and also what makes it so dangerous.
Welcome to the party
A potato is a root, but it still qualifies as a vegetable. And you buy potatoes in the vegetable section of your supermarket, right? And vegetables are good for you, right? So eat up!
I’m guessing that’s the way most people think of potatoes. But that logic has one detail wrong: Potatoes are not good for you.
Yes, potatoes have nutritious components, such as B vitamins, vitamin C, and some excellent minerals. But all those good things can’t save it from being a starch bomb that hits your system like a bag of candy.
As Dr. Spreen explains, a baked potato is as close to a pure, refined starch as you can get without actually refining it.
Dr. Spreen: “As soon as a starch hits enzymes in your mouth, the starches begin the digestion process, and breaks down to (you guessed it) sugar. As soon as the starch breaks down to sugar, you’re back to a refined simple carb.”
And those refined simple carbs are the ones that increase abdominal fat, promote weight gain, and help set the stage for type 2 diabetes.
This is what Dr. Spreen and I have been telling you about potatoes for years. And now, with a Harvard study in the New England Journal of Medicine, the mainstream has finally caught up.
Welcome to Nutrition 101, mainstream! We were expecting you years ago, but you finally made it, that’s the important thing.
The Harvard team examined general health data collected from more than 120,000 healthy adults who were not obese at the beginning of the study. Follow up periods ranged from 12 to 20 years.
Here are the top three food items that caused yearly weight-gain spikes, significantly above the national average:
- Potato chips
- Potatoes (any type of serving)
- Sugar-sweetened beverages
So if you’re struggling to manage your proper weight, a serving of potatoes is actually WORSE for you than a 12-ounce Coke!
Unfortunately, this is just the start of mainstream potato awareness. I doubt we’ll see the mainstream make a full conversion away from potatoes for many years.
Here’s why: The American Heart Association considers potatoes “heart healthy.” The United Nations declared 2008 the Year of the Potato. And on the American Diabetes Association website, a recipe for mashed potatoes calls for two cups of peeled potatoes.
Yikes! The skin is where most of the nutrients are! Take away the skin and you’re just shoveling sugar in your mouth.
Instead of sharing a wide variety of potato recipes, the ADA should be warning website visitors that potatoes prompt blood sugar spikes causing overproduction of insulin, which leads to pancreas stress and type 2 diabetes.
Hopefully that day will come. Until then, warn your spud-loving friends and family to go easy on the potatoes — or better yet, go without.
Jenny Thompson is the Director of the Health Sciences Institute and editor of the HSI e-Alert. Through HSI, she and her team uncover important health information and expose ridiculous health misinformation, most notably through the HSI e-Alert.
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