Is there anything better than a side dish of delicious oven-roasted potatoes?! No matter whether you prefer sweet potatoes, white potatoes or any other variety. Roasted as chips, fries, whole baked, hassleback or chopped in chunks. Seasoned with herbs, spices, garlic, olive oil or simply salt & pepper. There is no denying the humble potato is versatile, incredibly delicious and so simple to cook! Here’s the low down the health benefits of potatoes, glycemic index, AND one of my favourite potato recipes!
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE sweet potato, in fact it’s porbably my go to choice of potato. But I feel that white potatoes have mistakenly been given a bad wrap. They seem to have been thrown into the same basket as non-nutritive white bread. I’ve been asked so many times if white potato is “healthy”. The short answer is yes! All potatoes provide a variety of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and complex carbohydrates which is turned into our body’s preferred energy source. Be mindful that different varieties have different glycemic index (GI) ratings AND the way in which you cook potatoes can affect the GI. This is particularly important to note for diabetics, PCOS, and those on low GI meal plans.
Glycemic Index Rating
The glycemic index or GI ranks carbohydrates according to their effect on blood glucose levels. The lower the GI, the slower the rise in blood glucose levels will be when the food is consumed. The effect may differ from person to person. The Glycemic Index Foundation (Australia) rates GI into the following categories (taken from http://www.glycemicindex.com/):
- Low = GI value 55 or less
- Medium = GI value of 56 – 69 inclusive
- High = GI 70 or more
GI Rating of Potatoes
In Australia you can now buy the first and only ‘certified low GI‘ potato called Carisma Potato, which have a GI rating of 53 when cooked to their methods (with the skin ON, boiled until ‘al dente’). Other varieties of Australian potatoes range between 65-100. But keep in mind that the cooking method and other foods you eat potatoes with affects the total GI of your meal. Generally, mashed potatoes have a higher GI than boiled or roasted with the skin on. Eating potatoes in a meal with fiber, healthy fats and protein lowers the GI rating of your meal as its slows the rate of digestion.
The take home message is don’t focus on numbers! Instead, enjoy a BALANCED meal and serve your potatoes with fibrous vegetables, protein and healthy fats.
Po-tay-toe / Po-tah-toe (sound it out loud!). Potatoes are a tuber plant from the nightshade family, and are related to tomatoes. Potatoes are a good source of carbohydrates (particularly starches) and protein, with almost no fat. Potatoes contain many vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals. They are a good source of potassium, vitamin C, vitamin B6 and folate.
Potassium is an electrolyte which helps maintain our body’s water balance, as well as pH (acid/alkali balance). High potassium and low sodium intakes are linked to lowered risk of hypertension as it can help lower blood pressure.
Vitamin C is important in stabilising free radicals to prevent cell damage (and aging). It builds collagen and connective tissues for healthy skin, gums, bones and cartilage. Vitamin C supports the immune system, and boosts iron absorption when eaten with iron containing foods (such as spinach and meat).
Vitamin B6 plays a role in carbohydrate and protein metabolism. Folate is important in normal blood formation and preventing neural tube defects in unborn babies.
Cooked and cooled potatoes (eaten cold) provide a good source of ‘resistant starch’ which lowers the GI rating by approximately 25% (according to studies). Resistant starch feeds good bacteria in the gut, improving digestive health.
A few extra healthy tips for eating potatoes:
- Cook and eat potatoes with the skin on. The skin contains a lot of nutrients and most of the fibre, but also protects some of the nutrients that can be damaged when cooking (such as vitamin C). Fiber slows digestion, reduces the rise in blood glucose, improves colon health, and keep your feeling fuller for longer.
- Eat potatoes in a meal with healthy fats (such as a small drizzle of olive oil) and protein, as both slow down digestion again.
- Sprinkle potatoes with cinnamon, as cinnamon helps release insulin from your pancreas to lower blood glucose levels.
- Eat cooked and cooled potatoes (such as in a salad) with a vinegar based dressing to lower the GI rating.
- Never eat green or raw potatoes, as they naturally contain toxic substances that can cause illness. Cooking potatoes breaks down and removes these substances.
- Don’t wash potatoes until you are ready to cook them.
- Store in a well-ventilated, cool, dark environment. Keep potatoes away from warmth as this encourages sprouting. Prolonged light exposure causes them to turn green, which tastes bitter and in large quantities can be toxic.
- Store in a cardboard box or paper bag rather than plastic, which can get sweaty.
- Don’t store uncooked potatoes in the fridge. Very low temperatures can convert potato starches to sugars, causing fried or roast potatoes to brown too quickly.
Any variety of white potato will work for this recipe. However, the best for baking are the starchy varieties like Carisma (low GI variety), Coliban, Sebago, Russet, White Lady.
Garlic & Dill Hassleback Roast Potatoes (vg/gf)
- 500g white potato (see above for recommendations)
- 2 cloves garlic, finley chopped
- 2 sprigs fresh dill, chopped
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Saxa Iodised Rock Salt
- Line a baking tray, and preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Wash and scrub potatoes well (I use a vegetable brush).
- Using a sharp knife, make slices along the entire length of each potato, about 2mm wide and only 3/4 of the way through the potato (don’t slice all the way through as the potatoes need to hold together at the bottom)
- Sprinkle each potato with some chopped garlic, dill and a tiny bit of rock salt. Then drizzle with olive oil.
- Bake in the oven for 30-45 mins until perfectly golden. Serve hot (or cold) and enjoy!