Potatoes are okay for people with type 2 diabetes

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People with type 2 diabetes are often told to avoid eating potatoes, and other high Glycemic Index (GI) foods, because these foods make it difficult to control blood sugar.

This is especially problematic during the night when blood sugar tends to spike — a phenomenon that has been linked to heart disease.

But in a recent study at Australian Catholic University in Melbourne, researchers found that people actually had a better ‘nocturnal’ blood sugar level when they ate a mixed meal with skinless white potatoes compared to a meal that included a low GI carbohydrate food — basmati rice.

The study is published in Clinical Nutrition. One author is Dr. Brooke Devlin, Ph.D.

In the study, people were provided the same breakfast and lunch, but they were assigned to one of four dinners, each including either skinless white potatoes (test meal) prepared in three different ways (boiled, roasted, boiled then cooled then reheated) or basmati rice (control meal).

In addition to having blood samples collected regularly, the participants also wore a continuous glucose monitor overnight to track changes in blood sugar levels while sleeping.

The researchers found there were no differences between meals in glucose response following the dinner that contained any of the potato dishes or basmati rice.

Moreover, participants’ overnight blood sugar levels were better after eating the evening meal that included any of the high GI potato side dishes compared to low GI basmati rice.

These findings are contrary to traditional dietary guidance that has led many people to believe potatoes are not an appropriate food choice for people with type 2 diabetes.

The study shows high GI foods, like potatoes, can be consumed as part of a healthy evening meal without negatively affecting blood sugar levels — and while delivering key nutrients in relatively few calories, which is essential for people with type 2 diabetes.

The researchers conclude that potatoes are a vegetable that is sustainable, affordable, and nutrient-dense, and thus, they can play an important role in modern diets irrespective of metabolic health status.

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