Potatoes bad? Not so fast (VIDEO)


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Recently a Harvard study concluded that potatoes are bad for those wanting to lose weight and be healthy. You can read about the study here.

But is this true and accurate? Or another example of shoddy "science?"

Well, if we are discussing French Fries, Potato Chips, and the standard versions of mashed, boiled and baked potatoes (covered with cheese, butter, bacon and sour cream) then yes, the potato looks like "bad news."

However, if we are talking about the plain old baked potato, then this study has no impact. Both the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Health Organization declared 2008 "The International Year of the Potato" -- based on the potato's importance to the health, welfare -- and survival -- of the human race.

You can read some interesting articles by Jeff Novick MS RD on the superior nutrition of the baked potato by clicking here and here.

Meanwhile, if you're ready to be schooled about just how wonderful the potato is for human health, WATCH THIS VIDEO OF DR. MCDOUGALL:

To watch Dr.McDougall's full hour-plus video talk The Starch Solution, click here.


11 Comments | Leave a comment


I was touting the benefits of potatoes to a woman who responded that she had diabetes and that potatoes have a high glycemic index which is bad for diabetics. I recalled reading somewhere that potatoes were not hurtful to diabetics and actually helped them in some way. So I'm confused about the glycemic index issue. Can someone shed light on this for me?


From Jeff Novick MS RD:

The glycemic index is only one measure of how to look at a food and it is not well validated or credible.

Many randomized controlled trials have shown it not to be effective for either weight loss or diabetes.

Calorie density, of which potatoes are low, is a much better measure

A colleagues article on it...


thank you. very helpful.


Thanks for the article. I am a russett potato lover!
One area of possible concern with potatoes is that they contain glycoalkaloids, which are harmful to human health, according to a review mentioned in Latest in Clinical Nutrition(volume 3, 2009) by Michael Greger MD. If you eat potatoes, peel them. Sweet potatoes do not contain these compounds and are considered healthful.
If you can find anything different on the topic would appreciate.


From Jeff Novick MS RD:


All food, including fresh vegetables, fruits, starchy vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds, have natural toxins in them. Many of these occur naturally in the food and are part of the plants natural defense system. Bruce Ames has published some articles on this, showing just how many toxic chemicals occur naturally in common fruits and veggies.

Ames, B. N., Profet, M. and Gold, L. S. (1990) Dietary Pesticides (99.99% All Natural). Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 87, 7777-7781

Ames, B. N. (1990) Natural Carcinogens: They're Found in Many Foods. In: Health & Environment Digest, B. Murdock, ed., pp. 4

So, the real issue is not whether or not a food has any toxic chemical in it, but how much of the toxic chemical is in the food and does it exist at a level that can be toxic to humans. Nicotine occurs in many common vegetables.

N Engl J Med. 1993 Aug 5;329(6):437. The nicotine content of common vegetables.

In regard to nightshades, there is no credible and reputable evidence that the nightshade family is harmful.

Enjoy your potatoes!

Additional comments:

Some perspective

There hasn't been a single case of solanine poisoning due to eating potatoes in the United States for more than 50 years.

1) Buy fresh potatoes.

2) Store them in a cool, dry dark place

3) If they show signs of any green tint or green shading, peel away the green or just discard the potato. Do not buy any potatoes that show signs of green tint.

4) remove any "eyes" before cooking.

5) If you have done all the above, enjoy the skin

6) choose sweet potatoes. :)

Also see:


From what I've read the risk of solanine poisoning from potatoes, peeled or unpeeled, is extremely low unless one eats potatoes that are green or are sprouting or damaged.


Interesting! (Dr McDougall always is!) :-)


Disappointed since I am no vegan -- vegetarian instead, almost. I was looking forward to what had been promised in the video PR being circulated, namely that this would talk about civilizations that were trim and healthy and what they ate, or didn't.

Not that the potato info was unwelcome nor undesirable, BUT when McDougall pulls that nonsensical stunt about there being no nutrient value in the oil that was added to the potato experiment diet, I about dropped the keyboard. Imagine that, no nutrient value in olive oil. But the idea that this was all that trim and healthy people would need was outrageous. No green leafies! for 6 months, no outside diversity of nutrients to carry the needed A's and D's and no B12. Maybe the potatoes weren't quite so clean back in the 1920s so maybe insect protein was in the diet, without much notice.

Then to switch to the civilization connection after this deficient example of a derelict diet, to give sheen to the derelict idea is tantamount to bold lies.



Hi there:

Don't know what you're referring to when you say "video PR being circulated," but you can view the full talk from Dr. McDougall, it's linked below that video above. The link for Dr. McDougall's full 75-minute talk is here:

On the nutrient makeup of oil, there isn't much there. For example, one tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil has 120 calories and 13.5g of fat. Because oil is 100 percent fat, it contains no protein or carbohydrates and has only very small amounts of any nutrients. Oil is a processed food, and for health, avoid processed foods. Oils are also bad for your heart, some being worse than others. As the saying goes, the fat you eat is the fat you wear.

I suggest you watch Dr. McDougall's full talk if you're seeking more information.


McDougall Newsletter - July 2011 "The Starch Solution"

White potato "Starch" = blood sugar spike = obesity = diabetes = worse mortality. Evidence based studies proof.

White rice "Starch" = blood sugar spike = obesity = diabetes = worse mortality. Evidence based studies proof.

Vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains (in that order) = good nutrition = less obesity = less diabetes = better mortality.

Anti cancer, anti oxidants, vitamins, minerals are in Veggies.

"Starch" as such does NOT have anti cancer, does NOT have anti oxidants, does NOT have vitamins, does NOT have minerals.

"Starch" alone says eat your "white highly processed wheat", eat your "fries", eat your "white highly processed pasta".

Eat you veggies! McDougall emphasizing "Starch" alone harms Vegan movement!

We're dedicated vegans following "The China Study" and other well rounded nutrition suggestions.

"Starch" alone totally puts us off!
We don't even get beyond McDougall's word "Starch" to anything else he says

Jerry Amos
65A Laurel Hill Road
Hollis, NH 03049


Atlhough McDougall mentions very strong arguments, I'm still not convinced whether to believe him

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