Potatoes arrived in the 16th century in Europe thanks to the spanish Conquistadores who brought them back from South America, where they had been cultivated for more than 7000 years!

Today, they are used in kitchens all over the world and they represent one of the main crops in Europe. Did you know that we count 4’000 different varieties of native potatoes, mostly found in the Andes ?

From a nutritional point of view, spuds contain mainly water (79%), but they are primarily known for their high energy supply in the form of carbohydrates. 

Note that sweet potatoes are not in the same family as potatoes and do not have the same nutritional values.

So, how can potatoes be an ally for our health?

Potatoes can have a higher or lower glycemic index, depending on how we prepare them. (The glycemic index is a number which represents the relative rise in the blood sugar levels two hours after consuming a certain food).

If we eat them after cooking and letting them rest in the fridge, they will form a compound named “resistant starch”, which will lower their glycemic index, therefore contributing to a slower rise of blood sugar levels which will, in turn, be easier for the body to absorb. The resistant starch will also be fermented by our gut bacteria, creating short-chain fatty acids which are crucial for our gastrointestinal health. Furthermore, this type of starch will also increase the amount of good bacteria in our intestine.

What to look out for when buying potatoes?

“When compared with other […] crops by weight of active substance, ware potato crops can be seen to have relatively high input of plant protection products” * (herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, growth regulators) and they are also very greedy in water.

To make sure you eat potatoes that are as good for you as they are for our planet, here are two tips:

– Go and buy your potatoes directly from a producer and ask him about potato treatment

– Choose organic potatoes when available

*Potato Council, Building the Evidence Base: Potatoes a Low Impact Food Crop?, November 2011

How to introduce them in your weekly meals ?

Why not boil a good amount of them at the beginning of the week and put them in the fridge to make a delicious potato salad  or potato cakes to take to work for lunches or for quick, easy and healthy dinner ideas.

Don’t forget to eat them after letting them rest in the fridge to benefit from the resistant starch.