Can You Eat Potatoes on the Paleo Diet?


Potatoes are a staple food around the world, featured in a variety of cuisines and popular dishes (1).

However, as they’re high in carbs and often served in highly processed forms, you may be curious whether you can eat them while following the paleo diet.

If you’re new to the paleo diet, you should know that this way of eating focuses primarily on food quality. Specifically, it involves choosing whole, natural, unprocessed foods that are aligned with those that ancient hunter-gatherer societies may have eaten (2).

Generally, people who follow a paleo diet avoid grains, dairy, beans, and legumes, along with most added sugars and processed additives.

This article explains whether you can eat potatoes on the paleo diet.

Generally, unprocessed potatoes of all types can be part of a paleo diet.

Similarly to grains, which are off-limits on paleo, potatoes are starchy and rich in carbohydrates. However, potatoes are actually a type of starchy vegetable that grows underground, known as a tuber (2, 3).

In paleo circles, there’s some debate about white potatoes because they are starchier than sweet potatoes and may raise your blood sugar levels more quickly.

However, when eaten with the skin, their nutrient composition is comparable to that of sweet potatoes. Therefore, they should be fine to eat in moderation on the paleo diet (4, 5).

As long as they’re free of additives, even frozen or dehydrated potatoes could be considered paleo as well.

Cooking methods can also make a difference in whether potatoes fit the paleo diet. For instance, homemade french fries would need to be baked or fried in a paleo-acceptable oil like coconut oil, while homemade mashed potatoes would need to be prepared without dairy.

Additionally, if you’re doing a low carb or keto version of paleo, you’ll want to limit potatoes because of their carb content (3).

Keep in mind that potatoes, as well as other nightshade vegetables, such as eggplants and tomatoes, are off-limits on the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) diet, which resembles the paleo diet.

This protocol is an elimination diet typically followed by those with autoimmune conditions and other medical conditions to identify potential food triggers and improve symptoms.

Resistant starch in potatoes

Many people who follow the paleo diet are interested in optimizing their health, so the resistant starch content of potatoes may be of particular interest.

Resistant starch is a type of starch that your body can’t easily digest. In this way, it behaves like dietary fiber. Resistant starch may help manage your blood sugar and blood fat levels, as well as help you absorb minerals more efficiently (6).

You can increase the resistant starch content of potatoes by heating and cooling them prior to eating. One example of a dish that would inherently contain resistant starch is cold potato salad, which can easily be made using paleo ingredients (1, 7).

Summary

Unless you’re doing a low carb version of paleo or the AIP diet, unprocessed potatoes can be part of your diet. Depending on how they’re prepared, potatoes can be a good source of resistant starch, a unique type of fiber with some interesting health benefits.

On the other hand, many potato products aren’t appropriate for the paleo diet.

It’s important to check the ingredient list before you discount any item in particular, but in general, the following potato-based foods wouldn’t be considered paleo:

  • french fries, hashbrowns, or tater tots from non-paleo restaurants
  • bagged potato chips
  • powdered mashed potato mix
  • boxed potato-based side dishes like potatoes au gratin
  • potato breads
  • canned potato soup
  • mashed potatoes made with dairy

Summary

Unprocessed potatoes can be included on the paleo diet, while processed forms like potato chips or dehydrated mashed potatoes should not be included.

Unprocessed potatoes and potatoes that are cooked with paleo-friendly ingredients can be part of the paleo diet, which focuses on unprocessed foods and limits grains, legumes, and dairy.

Potatoes also contain resistant starch, a type of fiber that may offer some promising health benefits, such as improved blood sugar control.

However, certain potato products, such as those made with dairy or highly processed additives, aren’t considered paleo.

Unless you’re following a low carb version of paleo or the AIP diet, unprocessed potatoes can be an excellent, nutritious addition to your diet.



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