Nutrition & Dieting/White Potatoes


Hi, I wonder if you could answer a long-standing question I have. I am trying to avoid simple carbs like white bread and white rice but I am confused about what exactly a "white potato" is. Many nutritional books and websites say you should avoid "white potatoes," and they generally suggest sweet potatoes as a substitute. I hate, hate, hate sweet potatoes. As someone who grew up with mashed potatoes and gravy and loaded baked potatoes, I just find the idea of a sweet potato bizarre and unappetizing. So while I'm happy to give up the sour cream and bacon and gravy, I'd still like to be able to eat a potato as a part of a curry or maybe just by itself with a little salt on it. But no one ever says I can substitute a purple potato or a red potato for a white potato--everyone just goes straight to the sweet potato suggestion.

But red potatoes and purple potatoes aren't "white," so can I use those instead of white potatoes? Or does the ban on white potatoes really just mean all potatoes that aren't sweet?

Thanks in advance!

Hello Sarah,

In my experience, most of the advice to avoid "white" foods is an oversimplified generalization.
Of course, whole grain wheat bread has more fiber and other nutrients than white bread; whole grain rice has some benefits over refined white rice. But, you guessed it, the worst part about a white potato is the dressings people top it with that are very high in fat.

Sweet potatoes may have some more beta carotene than a white (russet) potato, but they also contain more carbs and more calories, which many people are trying to limit. White potatoes are a fairly good source of vitamin C and potassium as well as complex carbohydrate and fiber (mainly in the skin).

So unless you are on some medically restricted diet where you must avoid potatoes for a reason, enjoy any variety you like, guilt-free!


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Laurie Beebe, MS, RD, LD


As a registered dietitian (RD)I am fully qualified to accurately answer questions regarding weight loss, including those from people with health conditions requiring dietary restrictions (diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc) who want to lose weight, or who have been advised to do so by their physician.


I have been a registered dietitian for over 30 years and have a certificate in Adult Weight Management through the commission on dietetic registration at Level 1 and Level 2. I am also trained in coaching through Coach U and currently work as a diet coach to help people lose weight the healthy way, through gradual habit changes.

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), Weight Management Dietetic Practice Group, Nutrition Entreprenuers, St.Louis International Coach Federation, Toastmasters

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Bachelor of Health Science from the University of Florida, 1983; Master of Science in Clinical Nutrition from Case Western Reserve University 1985; Certificate in Adult Weight Management 2006; CoachU core essentials grad 2007; Level 2 certificate in Adult Weight Management 2010.

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