Monday, June 27, 2011

In defense of potatoes

Potatoes have lately been buried in a veritable avalanche of bad publicity.  First the United States Depart of Agriculture banned it from the list of items that could be bought with a certain type of food stamps, and just last week another research finding (out of Harvard, no less!) blamed chips and potatoes as being two of the leading causes of obesity.  Boo and hiss. A pox on both your houses.

Due to the USDA's new policy, needy families are now prohibited from buying potatoes with Women, Infants and Children (WIC) vouchers.  They can buy butter, cheese, whole milk, and eggs through the program, but not a single white potato. The result of this short-sighted decision will be that women and children will be 'forced' to get more of their daily sustenance from often overly greasy and cholesterol-laden animal foods, rather than from nutrient-dense low-calorie foods such as plain boiled or baked potatoes.

As for the research study, we are dealing with some very misleading headlines surrounding this. Plain baked or boiled or steamed potatoes (not fried, with butter, sour cream etc) fit comfortably into a well-balanced diet and will not make you 'fat'. Intrinsically the potato is practically a 'super food' being loaded with nutrients.  Check it out, a medium sized potato contains a boatload of Vitamin C and quite a bit of protein, amongst others. Unfortunately the spud is often 'abused' by food manufacturers and in restaurants, ending up with an undeserved bad reputation due to all the grease, salt, sugar, cream, cheese, etc. that food engineers and chefs include to make it more palatable.  

As for the so-called research study listing all the usual suspects as causing obesity, it is totally bogus. Being and becoming overweight has nothing at all to do with what you eat; it has everything to do with how much of it you consume, and how many of the calories consumed you burn off either sitting around watching TV (very few) or going for a long vigorous walk (quite a few) or a 10-mile run (a ton).  We do not need yet another scientific study to point out the obvious. Duh.  Bury yourself in a bag of potato chips or scarf down a bacon and cheeseburger with fries every day and see where that gets you. Certainly not into a bikini. Practically any exercise program can be overwhelmed by indiscriminate eating.  It can take as much as 45 minutes of brisk walking or 20 minutes of jogging to burn off the calories consumed in one measly candy bar.  

So please, aspiring diet scientist: put the blame where it belongs.  Lay off the potatoes and go after the Lay's instead. Potatoes rule!

1 comment:

Amy said...

That's terrible! Potatoes definitely have a spot in a healthy diet - just not as fries or chips...