> Are Potatoes Gluten Free?
Are Potatoes Gluten Free?
One of the challenges with gluten free diets, or any “healthy” diet, is finding tasty, nutritious ways to meet carbohydrate needs.
In their natural form, potatoes are gluten free. They’re also quite high in nutrients, as you’ll see under ‘Potatoes & Health’ later in this post.
You can also buy gluten free potato flour to create gluten free baked goods.
Note: potato flour is made of dehydrated whole potatoes, while potato starch is just the starchy (carbohydrate) part of the potato. Both products can be used in gluten free baking, but they serve different functions. Don’t get confused when reading a recipe that calls for one and use the other instead; they are not interchangeable.
The gluten free potato flour below gets good reviews, and it’s a good price via Amazon, below. Click to view.
And here is gluten free potato starch from the same company, also well reviewed. Click on the image, or the link, for a good price.
Why You Should Be Careful When Buying Potato Containing Foods
Sometimes processed potato foods, like potato chips, are not gluten free, and often they contain questionable additives, unhealthy oils, etc.
Remember, if in doubt about the gluten free status of any product, contact the manufacturer directly to verify.
Your best bet, if you want to be safe, is to stick with good old plain potatoes that you buy whole, or grow yourself. The potato flour and starch mentioned above are also good choices.
Good Inexpensive Potato Tools
Below is my favorite vegetable peeler.
I’ve used many peelers over the years. This is the best by far! This one stays sharp FAR longer than more expensive options.
Best potato peeler Click to view – Nice 3 for 1 deal!
I also like the potato masher below (and low prices via the links in this post):
best potato masher
Potatoes & Health
Potatoes have many good qualities that make them both healthful and suitable for gluten free diets.
Potatoes have a long history of use by humans. However, if you follow a Paleo diet, they are usually considered a no-no. Yet tubers, such as potatoes, have been eaten by healthy hunter-gatherer tribes for a long time, so even if they aren’t technically “Paleo”, they seem to be one of the safer carbohydrate sources available.
- complete protein – the protein content per potato, is low, but because it’s complete, you don’t have to be concerned about eating other protein sources to get all of the essential amino acids, like you have to do with grains and legumes.
- essential minerals – potatoes contain good amounts of magnesium, copper and potassium, and thanks to their low phytic acid content, unlike grains and legumes, the minerals are well absorbed by the body.
- virtually no omega-6 – potatoes are very low in fat, and won’t add to your omega-6 or omega-3 load like some grains. But be sure to eat them with a healthy fat like coconut oil or butter. See my post: Where to Buy Coconut Oil
Potatoes are also:
- highly digestible. When peeled and steamed or boiled, the carbohydrates and protein in potatoes is very easy to digest compared to most other gluten free starch sources.However, the skins are hard to digest. If you have any digestive issues, fiber might be even harder for your body to process. While potato skins do have trace nutrients such as potassium, they also contain the compounds commonly found in nightshade plants, which can be allergenic for some people. Removing the skin with a potato peeler, cooking the potatoes until very soft, then eating them with butter (or ghee) or coconut oil is advised.
- easy to prepare. You can wrap them in foil and bake them in the oven, boil them, steam them, slice them up to make french fries or potato chips – either baked or deep fried (again, use coconut oil or ghee – both are heat stable enough to deep fry with).
- low in Calories, relatively speaking, yet high in satiety when combined with a healthy fat. If you’re reducing Calories to lose weight, each medium sized potato is really very low Calorie for it’s size, around – only 25/oz, thus a medium sized potato runs about 150-200 Calories. If you want to increase your food intake to gain weight, you can eat more of them, and/or add larger amounts of healthy fat such as butter, cream, coconut oil or high quality cheese.
What Isn’t Good About Potatoes?
- high on the glycemic index, so they can raise blood sugar excessively, BUT that doesn’t matter much if you eat them with a good amount of fat and/or protein.
- allergenic. Potatoes are in the nightshade family, along with peppers and tomatoes. Digestive problems and aching joints are common complaints from people who react to nightshades. I, sadly, get joint pain if I eat potatoes, and itchy skin too, so I must avoid them. If you think you might be allergic to potatoes, but you’re unsure, try peeling them (a good idea even if you aren’t allergic) and cooking them until soft and eating them with coconut oil or butter. If you still seem to react to them, you can try a different variety perhaps, but it may be that you have to avoid them as I do.
Are Potatoes with Greenish Skins Poisonous?
Yes, they contain a toxic substance called solanine. The greenish hue you see in the skin simply alerts you of solatine’s presence. The green actually comes from chlorophyll.
Solanine serves an important purpose: it’s part of the plant’s defense against insects, disease, and predators. Potato leaves and stems are naturally very high in it, so don’t eat potato leaves and stems if you’re growing your own potatoes (you won’t see leaves and stems on store bought potatoes). Solanine develops in potatoes when spuds are subjected to light, or very cold or warm temperatures. So please store your potatoes in a cool, dark place.
Why is solanine a toxin? Solanine can interfere with the body’s ability to use a chemical that aids in the transmission of impulses between cells. If you eat solanine in large enough amounts, it can cause diarrhea, vomiting, headaches, and even paralysis of the central nervous system.
However, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever ingest enough solanine to do serious damage to yourself. A healthy adult would have to eat about 4 1/2 pounds of green potatoes at once to experience any serious neurological symptoms. That said, at lower doses, they can make you sick, so definitely toss potatoes that have green eyes, sprouts, or greenish skins, particularly if you will be serving them to children or people who are not in good health.