Understanding Potatoes, "White Foods" and the Glycemic Index

By Mike Geary

It is important to have a good understanding of carbohydrates, especially “white foods” and potatoes. Many heath and fitness professionals encourage people to avoid potatoes because they are high on the glycemic index. Some of these professionals even tell people to “avoid any and all white carbohydrates”.

While most people would agree that white bread and refined white sugar have no intrinsic, nutritional value and are bad for your body, I can not agree with avoiding all white carbohydrates. There is a lot of talk right now about eating colorful foods to reap the benefit from their protective antioxidants. And the focus is to eat only colorful fare and stay away from white foods.

However, “White foods” are not the enemy they are being presented to be.


While colorful foods are great and should be part of your diet, it’s a mistake to exclude white foods. There are nutrients found in some white foods that can not be found elsewhere. Here are some examples of these.

First we will look at onions and garlic

Onions and garlic have many benefits. Whilte they are white, they are also a great source of protective phytonutrients, vitamins and trace minerals. These minerals include allicin, quercetin, chromium and other anti-inflammatory nutrients.

Cauliflower is another great white food

It has amazing health benefits, despite it’s bland color. It is an excellent source of vitamin C as well s fiber, minerals, glucosinolates and thiocyanates; all items found in other cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cabbage. Some of these compounds work to fight other estrogenic compounds that are found in our food supply and can actually help to prevent excess belly fat. So keep that cauliflower in your diet.

Mushrooms are another great food

White mushrooms have nutrients that are hard to find elsewhere and antioxidants, making them another excellent choice to keep in your diet. They are high in antioxidants called polyphenols and ergothioneine.

Potatoes are still a great food for you

First of all, potatoes can be found in colored varieties including, red, yellow, and purple. Potatoes are thought to have a high glycemic index, and so there are health and fitness professionals that steer people away from them. However, as I explained in my book “Truth about Six Pack Abs”, the glycemic index is not the most important things to take into account when considering carbohydrates.

It is generally true that low glycemic index carbs will help you lose body fat faster and easier than their high glycemic index counterparts, there is more that should be taken into account. The glycemic load and how you combine the high GI food with other foods will also affect how your body will process them, and therefore how fattening or healthy the food will be.

Glycemic Load and the Glycemic Index

First we will look at the glycemic load. Watermelon has a high glycemic index. However, the glycemic load of watermelon is low enough that you simply will not gain weight just because you ate a serving of watermelon. To consume enough watermelon to have a negative glycemic effect, you would have to eat an enormous amount that most people simply would never consume in one sitting.

Watermelon is also high in vitamins, minerals and lycopene. Therefore, the high Glycemic Index should not convince you to avoid watermelon. The main thing to remember is candy bars, cupcakes and muffins will make you fat. While watermelons, carrots and potatoes will not. Excluding French fries, that is.

It is also important to think about how you are combining your food because that makes a difference in how your body will process it. Combining a food with a high glycemic index with another food high in fiber, or healthy fats, or some protein, will often cause your glycemic response to be slowed greatly. For more details on this, refer to my book “Truth about Six Pack Abs”.

Looking again at the white potato, the point I’m trying to make is that if you eat them in a healthy way,  keeping the skin on and not frying them, they can be healthy for you. French fries are an abomination of the potato because they are soaked in trans fats in the deep fryer, killing all the healthy benefits of them.

Pototoes are so full of vitamins and minerals that it’s a huge mistake to take them off the menu. And the skin gives you an added bit of fiber in your diet.

You may wonder if eating seven to nine potatoes every day will increase your weight.

I remember reading about a study where participants were required to eat between seven and nine potatoes every single day for several weeks.

When the study was finished, they found that the potato eaters has actually lost weight during this time. It is likely that the people were so full from enjoying all those potatoes that they wound up consuming fewer calories. The average potato only has between 100 and 120 calories, yet it fills you up so I can see where eating 7 potatoes in a day would keep you feeling full without consuming too many calories.

Personally, I would never recommend that a person go to such extreme lengths, but it goes to prove my point that potatoes are neither bad for you nor fattening, and combining them with fibrous vegetables or some protein can be especially beneficial. Keeping that in mind, I have a recipe for you which uses potatoes.

Geary’s Lean-Body Potato Side Dish

  • First you will want baby potatoes, ideally you may want to try this mix I found at a health food stores. It is a  mixture of white, red, yellow and purple baby potatoes.
  • One red pepper
  • One green pepper
  • One yellow pepper
  • 1 or 2 onions
  • Garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 or 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste, you may want to try sea salt.

Cut the baby potatoes in quarters and steam them until soft. Slice up the peppers and onions into strips, then place in pan with olive oil and garlic. Cook peppers, onions and garlic until tender then add the steamed baby potatoes. Stir all ingredients together, salt and pepper to taste and serve. This amazing side dish is healthy, delicious and great with any main dish of white or red meat.

I hope that I have enlightened you about the health benefits of potatoes, the availability of healthy carbohydrates, the glycemic index and my favorite potato recipe.

More like this in the Diet and Nutrition section

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