Potatoes: Getting a Bad Rap

Last week as I dined at our local family restaurant I turned to the back page of the menu only to find no less than 15 low-carbohydrate menu selections. Few restaurants have avoided jumping on the low-carbohydrate diet bandwagon, but I was struck by the sheer number of low-carb selections being offered. About 40 percent of Americans are estimated to have adjusted their carbohydrate intake based on this diet trend. As a result, some foods are being perceived as worse than others. Potatoes have gotten the worst rap of all.

For decades, dietitians have been hearing that potatoes are bad. And for decades we have tried to convince consumers that potatoes are OK as part of a balanced diet. The real problem is the way potatoes are prepared. When we deep-fry them as all-American French fries or top them with mounds of cheese or sour cream, we are adding unnecessary fat and calories. If instead you stick to a medium-sized, plain baked potato, you will only get 100 calories, some great fiber, and plenty of vitamin C.

Last year I read an interesting article about a new, lower-carbohydrate potato that has been developed by researchers in Florida. But those of you who continue to avoid potatoes in your daily diet should know that there are only 15 to 20 grams of carbohydrate in a serving of America's former first vegetable.