Carbohydrate-rich foods like potatoes are a good source of energy. For a balanced diet, carbohydrates should supply just over half of your daily energy needs, with most of these coming from complex carbohydrates.
A great advantage of getting carbohydrates from potatoes, rather than pasta or rice, is that potatoes supply a wealth of other vital nutrients. Potatoes contain more dietary fibre, potassium and folate than rice or pasta. They also contain vitamin C, which neither rice or pasta contain.
Carbohydrates can be divided into two broad groups – simple carbohydrates (sugars) and complex (starchy) carbohydrates. Potatoes contain complex carbohydrates.
Simple carbohydrates (sugars)
Simple carbohydrates (sugars) are made up of sugars, like sucrose, which are quickly broken down and absorbed into the blood stream, causing a rapid rise in blood sugar levels. The rapid rise causes the body to produce a sharp rise in insulin levels and results in the sugars being converted into fat. This rapid rise in blood sugar levels is usually followed by a rapid drop.
Complex (starchy) carbohydrates
Complex or starchy carbohydrates are molecules of many sugars joined together. These are the carbohydrates that potatoes supply. Starchy carbohydrates are the body’s favourite fuel. Starchy carbohydrates are an important source of energy; as the molecules are made up of many sugars it takes longer for them to be broken down in the stomach and sugars are released more slowly into the blood stream avoiding unwanted peaks in blood sugar levels. See the our post on energy and glycaemic impact.
Fibre – for a healthy digestive system
Potatoes are a great source of fibre; cooked potatoes contain 2.8g fibre per 150g serve*.
It is important to include foods high in fibre in the diet because:
- foods rich in insoluble fibre are also more bulky which can help us feel full longer
- fibre helps to keep bowels healthy and prevent constipation.
Boiled potatoes have more fibre than rice or pasta.
Source: Foodworks Version 7
Source*: The composition and health benefits of potatoes – an update (2009-2013), Lister C.E., October 2013. The report is available to download.