I might start doing a blog series aimed at rectifying the information about all the demonised foods in the media. This week it’s carbs apparently.
We literally built an entire war effort on potatoes, and yet the little vegetables get absolutely crucified whenever anyone embarks on a weight-loss journey. Why? They are, after all, a vegetable. A pretty nutritious one at that, and much more likely to leave you feeling satisfied than some broccoli (or an ex boyfriend). Their high carb content most likely plays the biggest factor, and yet as we’re finally starting to realise, CARBS ARE GREAT. Our brains literally need carbs to function. In the same way that bread and pasta are apparently a no go, potatoes are eschewed by anyone embarking on a diet with the same enthusiasm as Theresa May running through a field of wheat.
If you read my previous post on bread (if you haven’t, go do it now), you’ll know that in the health and fitness industry, foods tend to be demonised or deemed a superfood without any real rhyme or reason. Most of the time, the foods are really similar in nutritional content and yet one is invariably deemed better than the other.
In this sense, sweet potatoes undeniably reign supreme. You can’t see any bro food meal prep or superfood salad without the addition of sweet potatoes (and FYI I do love sweet potatoes. But they will never ever be as good as roast potatoes or chunky chips baked to perfection with loads of olive oil. Don’t @ me). After a quick search on MyFitnesspal, I saw that sweet potatoes actually have more carbs than white potatoes per gram. They’re called sweet potatoes for a reason, and their sugar content is much higher. So maybe our carb fearing pals are just more forgiving of the sweet potato, or haven’t realised. I mean, a pretty orange or purple colour on a plate looks way more instagram-worthy than a beige one, right?
Plus, one isn’t necessarily nutritionally better than the other. Yeah sweet potatoes have a bit more fibre and vitamin A than white potatoes, but the latter have more essential minerals such as iron, magnesium and potassium. Plus, white potatoes even have more protein if that’s your jam. So if it’s health you’re going for when you ask for sweet potato over regular, perhaps you should be questioning whether that’s what you really want, or if the media’s glorifying of its orange sister is swaying your decision.
Again, the hatred for potatoes could stem from a class issue. Potatoes are extremely cheap and have long been associated with the “poor”, historically speaking. It was the diet of the peasants because it could be grown so easily and was extremely filling when there was not much else to offer on their plates. Yet, surely this should make them even more popular; they pack in an amazing amount of nutrients, they’re under the WHO’s healthiest foods, full of fibre, really filling and they’re extremely versatile – all for less than a quid.
The many ways of serving potatoes makes them a superfood in my eyes, and there is barely any other vegetable that I can think of that can be prepared in so many ways. No, cauliflower mash is not the fucking same, okay?
Of course, a lot of the uses for potatoes are rooted (excuse the pun) in our nation’s quest to deep fry EVERYTHING. Fries, crisps etc are not the best for our health but, again, are perfectly fine to eat if you want them sometimes. Yeah if you want to McDonalds french fries every day then i’m not about to claim that you’ll be in stellar health, but please don’t think that because potatoes are unhealthy in one way, it affects their overall value. If Lauren Conrad could eventually forgive Heidi, then we can forgive the potato for wanting to be a french fry occasionally.
One of my favourite things in the world is my mum’s roast potatoes and it saddens me that I spent so long only helping myself to one when my heart wanted at least seven. I will never make that same mistake again. Sorry mum.