> 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 high in nutrients as you’ll learn in the Potatoes & Health section of this post.
Gluten free potato flour can be used to create gluten-free baked goods.
Note: Potato flour is made with dehydrated potatoes. Potato starch is only the starchy (carbohydrate) part of the potato. Both products can be used in gluten-free baking, but they have different functions. Pay attention to which one a recipe calls for because 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:
The gluten-free potato starch below is from the same company and also gets good reviews. Click on the image, or the link, for a good price:
Be Careful When Buying Potato Containing Foods
Sometimes processed potato foods, like potato chips, are not gluten-free.
Remember, if in doubt about the gluten-free status of any product, contact the manufacturer directly to verify.
Your safest choice, to avoid gluten and also questionable additives, is fresh potatoes. The gluten-free potato flour and starch mentioned in this post are also okay, but thanks to processing they’re less nutritious than fresh potatoes.
Good Inexpensive Potato Tools
Below is my favourite vegetable peeler.
This is the best peeler I’ve used so far; it stays sharp much longer than other peelers I’ve tried.
Best potato peeler
I also like the potato masher below:
Best potato masher
Potatoes & Health
Potatoes can be a healthy part of a gluten-free diet.
Potatoes have a long history of safe human consumption.
- High quality protein. The protein content per potato is low, but it contains all of the essential amino acids in a good ratio, with less tryptophan than many other commonly eaten protein foods. Lowering consumption of tryptophan is healthy, not what is commonly advised about increasing it. Read Dr. Ray Peat’s excellent overview here: Tryptophan, serotonin, and aging
- Essential minerals. Potatoes contain ample magnesium, copper and potassium. They’re low in phytic acid, unlike grains and legumes, so the minerals they contain 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 compared to grains. 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, potatoes are very easy to digest compared to most other gluten-free starch sources. However, the skin can be hard to digest thanks to the fibre it contains. The skin also contains compounds that are commonly found in nightshade plants that are allergenic for some people. Removing the skin with a potato peeler, cooking the potatoes until very soft and eating them with butter (or ghee) or coconut oil is advised for people with digestive issues.
- 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 because they’re heat stable and safe 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, a medium sized potato is very low in Calories for it’s size, close to 25 per ounce. A medium sized potato (6-8 oz) is only 150-200 Calories. If you want to increase your food intake to gain weight, eat more potatoes, 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. They can raise blood sugar, but fortunately that isn’t a danger if you eat them with a good amount of fat and/or protein.
- Allergenic. Potatoes are in the nightshade family. Digestive problems and aching joints are common complaints from people who react to nightshades. I sometimes get joint pain within 24 hours if I eat potatoes, and itchy skin. If you think that you might be allergic to potatoes, but you’re unsure, remove the skin, boil until soft and eat them with coconut oil or butter. If you still react, you can try a different variety of potatoes, but it may be that you have to avoid all potatoes.
Are Potatoes with Greenish Skins Poisonous?
Yes, they contain a toxic substance called solanine. A greenish hue on the skin tells you that solanine is present. The green comes from chlorophyll.
Solanine serves an important purpose: it’s part of the plant’s defence against insects, disease, and predators. Potato leaves and stems are naturally very high in solanine, 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. 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 amounts it can cause diarrhea, vomiting, headaches and paralysis of the central nervous system.
Fortunately it’s unlikely that you’ll ingest enough solanine to do serious damage to yourself. A healthy adult would have to eat close to 4 1/2 pounds of green potatoes at once to experience serious neurological symptoms. That said, at lower doses, they can make you sick, so definitely don’t eat potatoes that have green eyes, sprouts, or greenish skins.