Q: Are potatoes bad for you? I read that eating too many is unhealthy.
A: It can be confusing to make sense of how potatoes fit in healthy eating habits. Some sources talk about potatoes as loaded with nutrients, yet others say potatoes don’t even count toward goals of eating more vegetables. Here’s the scoop….
Nutrients, Calories and Phytochemicals – A medium potato is rich in vitamin C and offers even more blood-pressure-friendly potassium than two medium bananas. Potatoes provide other protective nutrients, including the phytochemical quercetin and dietary fiber (particularly with the skin on).
Along with corn, peas and lima beans, potatoes are categorized as a starchy vegetable. Each serving has more carbohydrate and calories than non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, lettuce or tomatoes, making some people think potatoes are high-calorie.
Eating foods with a high glycemic index (GI) can make your blood sugar rise higher and faster after eating. Theoretically, that could cause unhealthy levels of hormones like insulin, which seem to promote development of some cancers, including breast.
However, research suggests that glycemic index by itself has little to no relation to breast cancer risk.
An analysis of 19 studies found no link between breast cancer risk and diets high in GI beyond what could occur by chance. Even glycemic load (GL), which takes portion size of foods into account, showed no significant link to breast cancer risk. The links were not consistent and could reflect other qualities of those diets. Another analysis that included only studies with a stronger design that follows people over time (called prospective cohort studies) found a weak five to six percent increase in breast cancer risk when comparing diets at the very highest to the very lowest glycemic index or glycemic load, respectively. Read more… “Do foods high in glycemic index increase breast cancer risk?”
It was only in the past few decades that research found diet plays a role in preventing colon cancer. Now, a study suggests that colon cancer patients whose diets are relatively low in starchy foods and carbohydrates have a lower risk of recurrence and death compared to those eating a high carb diet.
The study builds on the authors’ earlier research that observed a link between an overall pattern of eating and recurrence among colon cancer patients. That study found patients who ate the most fats, meats, carbs and sugary desserts — a Western diet — were three times more likely to have their cancer recur compared to those whose diets were least Western.