Can eating potatoes make you fat?

Both potatoes and rice are complex carbohydrates and if eaten in moderation will not make you fat. They can, however, cause weight gain if they are cooked with butter, margarine, cream or any other fatty substance, instead of just boiled in water. The cooking method used can significantly increase the calorie value of both rice and potato.

For instance, a 5-ounce (142g) portion of hash browns, cooked in oil or butter, has 375 calories, while a 5-ounce (142g) portion of French fries has 435 calories. Potato chips that have been deep-fried have more than five times the number of calories than a boiled potato.

Similarly, rice that is fried or cooked with fat, such as chicken rice or nasi biryani, will have higher calories than steamed rice.

The choice of portion sizes can also lead to weight gain. Excess calories will add up if you double the portions or indulge in high-calorie potato and rice preparations daily, instead of having them as an occasional treat. In addition, the lack of physical activity can also exacerbate weight gain.

Can eating rice and potatoes raise your risk of type 2 diabetes?

Most varieties of rice and potatoes are high glycemic index carbohydrates and have been linked to a higher risk of type 2 diabetes. That is because these starchy carbohydrates are quickly broken down into glucose and absorbed into the bloodstream, which can cause blood sugar and insulin levels to rise.

However, the evidence against rice and potatoes is not conclusive. Some studies have found a link between these foods and diabetes, while others have not.

Since both rice and potatoes have many nutritional benefits, health experts advise that they be eaten in moderation as part of a balanced diet. Portion size and healthy methods of cooking are some factors to keep in mind when consuming rice and potatoes.

Diabetics too can safely enjoy nutritious rice and potato preparations in small portions as part of a healthy eating plan that includes whole grains, lean meats, and high-fibre fruits and vegetables.​

How can I cook potato and rice in a healthy way?

Steaming, boiling, baking are some healthy methods to cook rice and potatoes. Avoid deep frying potatoes and instead stir-fry them with a sprinkle of healthy oil such as canola, soya, olive, sunflower, corn and other oils rich in unsaturated fatty acids.

Rice and potatoes can be enjoyed in a variety of preparations in moderation,” says Ms Peggy Tan, Dietitian, Tiong Bahru Community Health Centre​. If you want to have French fries, make your own by baking strips of potato in the oven. To make a healthier version of mashed potato, use skimmed milk instead of cream and butter.

Article contributed by the Tiong Bahru Community Health Centre.

Tiong Bahru Community Health Centre (CHC) strives to bring about convenient health services to the community. It is helmed by a team of experienced nurses and allied healthcare professionals to support and complement GPs in their management of patients with chronic conditions.

Main services include Digital Diabetic Retinopathy Photography, Diabetic Foot Screening, Nurse Counselling and Education, as well as Dietetic Services.​

Ref: Q15​