Potatoes are controversial in the Primal and paleo world, largely due to the fact that they are so high in carbohydrates. The only one that most people can agree to include as part of a Paleo lifestyle is the sweet potato, and that’s because sweet potatoes have enough fiber to slow down the body’s digestion of carbohydrates, preventing a surge in blood sugar. Those of us living a Paleo lifestyle generally prefer to avoid spikes in blood sugar because a spike leads to a crash, leaving us feeling tired, cranky, and craving more carbs.
Paleo and Nutrition
Paleo is much more than just watching your macronutrient ratios, though. It’s also about consuming a diet that is rich in nutrients, and potatoes are surprisingly nutritious. They contain an impressive amount of B vitamins, vitamin C, and trace minerals like phosphorous, and potassium.
The Benefits of Resistant Starch
Perhaps most important is the resistant starch contained in potatoes. Resistant starch is a prebiotic that feeds the beneficial bacteria in our gut, making it a necessary addition to the diet of anyone trying to maintain a healthy gut biome and strong immune system. Resistant starch also helps improve glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity, so despite the high carbohydrate content of potatoes, they may actually help to improve your blood sugar levels.
There is a catch, though, cooking kills the resistant starch contained in potatoes, so they are best eaten raw, or gently cooked and then cooled. Mark Sisson has a whole post on the benefits of resistant starch.
If you’re still concerned about the carbohydrate content of potatoes, that’s up to you. Everyone is an individual and some people can eat potatoes and feel fine, while others experience the fatigue that is common after eating an excessive amount of carbohydrates. The only way to know what works best for you is to play around with your carbohydrate content and see what makes you feel your best.