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Are potatoes easy to digest?

Potatoes are one of the most popular vegetables consumed worldwide. They are versatile, inexpensive, and packed with nutrients like vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. However, some people claim that potatoes are hard to digest and can cause gastrointestinal issues. So are potatoes easy to digest or not?

The answer is – it depends. There are a few factors that determine how well potatoes are digested, including:

Type of potato

There are several different types of potatoes, and some are easier to break down than others:

– New potatoes – New potatoes are young, small, thin-skinned potatoes that are harvested early. They contain less starch and are easier to digest than older, more mature potatoes.

– White potatoes – Russet and white potatoes have a higher starch content which can make them more difficult to digest, especially when eaten raw or undercooked.

– Sweet potatoes – Sweet potatoes are lower in starch and higher in fiber which makes them easier on digestion than white potatoes.

Cooking method

How you prepare potatoes can significantly impact their digestibility:

– Baked/boiled – Fully cooked, well-done potatoes are easier to digest than raw, undercooked, or fried potatoes. The high heat helps break down the starches.

– Mashed – Mashing potatoes makes them easier to digest by partially breaking down the fibers and starches.

– Fried/chips – Frying or turning potatoes into chips can make them harder to digest due to added fat/oil content.

Other factors

Some other factors that affect potato digestion include:

– Skin on or peeled – Leaving the skin on potatoes adds fiber which can aid digestion. However, some find skins hard to break down.

– Cooking temperature – Higher temperatures help break down resistant starch in potatoes. Cooling potatoes after cooking can increase resistant starch.

– Food sensitivities – Some people may be sensitive to compounds in potatoes like solanine or have issues with FODMAPs.

– Gut health – Those with gastrointestinal conditions may have difficulty breaking down and absorbing nutrients from potatoes.

Are potatoes high in carbs?

Yes, potatoes are relatively high in carbs. One medium potato (148g) contains:

– Calories: 161
– Carbs: 37 grams
– Starch: 26 grams
– Sugar: 1 gram
– Fiber: 2 grams

The majority of the carbohydrates in potatoes come from starch. Potatoes contain a high amount of starch molecules like amylose and amylopectin which contribute to their carbohydrate density.

However, potatoes have a lower glycemic index than many other starchy foods like white rice and white bread. The fiber and water content of potatoes helps slow down the absorption of its sugars.

Do potatoes cause gas and bloating?

Potatoes can sometimes cause gas and bloating, but not for everyone. Here’s why potatoes may lead to excess gas:

Resistant starch – Some of the starch in potatoes resists digestion and reaches the colon where it ferments, producing gas. This is more likely when potatoes are undercooked.

FODMAPs – Potatoes contain FODMAPs (fermentable carbs) like fructans that can ferment in the gut and cause gas. Those with IBS may be sensitive.

Solanine – The glycoalkaloid solanine found in potatoes can irritate the digestive tract in high amounts and cause gas.

Raffinose – This is a complex sugar present in small amounts in potatoes that can cause gas.

However, not all people experience digestive upset from potatoes. Consuming them in moderate portions, avoiding green potatoes, and proper cooking can help prevent gas and bloating.

Do potatoes cause constipation?

Potatoes contain a good amount of fiber, vitamin C, and potassium which can help soften stool and prevent constipation.

One medium baked potato with skin provides 2-3 grams of fiber. The skins in particular contain insoluble fiber that adds bulk to stool.

However, undercooked or improperly prepared potatoes are more likely to cause constipation. Reasons why include:

Resistant starch – When potatoes are undercooked, more resistant starch reaches the colon leading to constipation.

Dehydration – The high starch content of potatoes can potentially dehydrate the body and lead to constipation if not consumed with enough fluids.

FODMAPs – For those with IBS, potatoes contain FODMAPs that may exacerbate constipation symptoms.

As long as they are fully cooked, consumed in moderation, and eaten with plenty of fluids, potatoes can help prevent constipation due to their fiber, vitamin, and mineral content.

Do potatoes cause diarrhea?

Potatoes are generally considered gentle on the stomach and do not commonly cause diarrhea. However, in some cases potatoes may trigger diarrhea:

Sensitivities – Those with sensitivities to nightshades, FODMAPs, or compounds in potatoes like glycoalkaloids may get diarrhea after eating them.

Green potatoes – Unripe, green potatoes can contain higher amounts of solanine and chaconine that may irritate the gut.

Fried potatoes – Heavy, greasy fried potato dishes lead to digestion issues in some people, including diarrhea.

Potato intolerance – Though rare, some people may have an intolerance to potatoes that causes diarrhea after eating them.

If you experience diarrhea or loose stools consistently after eating potatoes, it may be best to avoid them. Also properly cook potatoes and avoid eating green or rotten ones.

Nutrition facts of potatoes

Here is the nutritional value of one medium baked potato (173g) with skin:

Nutrient Amount % Daily Value
Calories 161 8%
Carbohydrates 37 g 13%
Fiber 3 g 10%
Sugar 1 g
Protein 4 g
Vitamin C 28% 45%
Vitamin B6 29% 35%
Potassium 26% 20%

Key points:

– Potatoes are high in carbs – mainly starch. One medium potato contains 37 grams of carbs.

– They provide fiber (3 grams per potato), vitamin C, vitamin B6, and potassium.

– The fiber content helps improve digestion and prevent constipation.

– Potatoes have a lower glycemic index than many refined carbs.

Do potatoes cause inflammation?

There is little evidence that potatoes directly cause widespread inflammation in otherwise healthy people.

Compounds called glycoalkaloids found naturally in potatoes may cause localized inflammation of the digestive tract at high intakes. But normal potato consumption is unlikely to lead to systemic inflammation.

Here’s what the research says:

– Potatoes have anti-inflammatory antioxidants like vitamin C, carotenoids, and phenolics.

– A 2021 study found potato consumption was linked to lower inflammatory markers like IL-6 and CRP.

– However, fried potato products like chips and fries can trigger inflammation due to their high fat and salt content.

Some people may see reduced inflammation by avoiding nightshades like potatoes, but this depends on the individual. Overall potatoes eaten in moderation as part of a balanced diet are unlikely to promote inflammation.

Do potatoes cause leaky gut syndrome?

There is limited evidence that potato consumption directly leads to increased intestinal permeability or “leaky gut” in most people. Leaky gut involves damage to the intestinal lining allowing bacteria and toxins to leak out.

However, some researchers speculate potatoes could promote leaky gut through:

– Containing digestive-resistant starches that ferment in the colon.

– Glycoalkaloids like solanine that may damage gut barrier function at very high intakes.

– Containing lectins that may interact with the gut lining. Lectin amounts are reduced when potatoes are cooked.

For those with pre-existing gut disorders like IBS, autoimmune diseases, or food sensitivities, potatoes may exacerbate intestinal permeability symptoms in some cases.

But for otherwise healthy people, potatoes in moderation are unlikely to cause leaky gut. More research is needed on their role in gut health.

Do potatoes cause acid reflux?

For most people, potatoes do not commonly trigger acid reflux or heartburn symptoms. Reasons why potatoes are considered relatively safe for acid reflux include:

pH: Potatoes are alkaline-forming vegetables with a pH around 5.4-6. They help balance acidity levels.

Fat content: Potatoes are very low in fat and not prone to relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter.

Fiber: Potatoes contain fiber that helps reduce reflux by absorbing stomach acid.

Nutrients: Potatoes provide vitamins like niacin and minerals that assist proper digestion.

However, fried potatoes or greasy potato dishes may exacerbate reflux due to their high fat content. And potatoes can trigger symptoms in those with sensitivities.

Overall, when eaten in their whole food form, potatoes tend to be gentle and well-tolerated for people with acid reflux.

Do potatoes aggravate IBS?

For some people with IBS, potatoes may aggravate symptoms:

FODMAPs: Potatoes contain FODMAPs including fructans and galacto-oligosaccharides that can ferment in the gut of those with IBS.

Resistant starch: The starch in potatoes may pass undigested to the colon contributing to IBS issues like gas, bloating, and diarrhea

Solanine: Glycoalkaloids like solanine may irritate the gut lining in sensitive people and exacerbate IBS.

However, not all IBS patients react negatively to potatoes. Some find them tolerable in moderation when peeled, thoroughly cooked, and eaten with other foods. It depends on the individual.

Testing your personal tolerance, keeping portions small, and proper preparation can help determine if potatoes aggravate your IBS symptoms.

Do potatoes cause autoimmune disease or arthritis flares?

There is no strong evidence linking moderate potato consumption to increased risk of autoimmune diseases or arthritis flares. However, some theorize potatoes may contribute to flares in sensitive people due to:

– Containing glycoalkaloids like solanine that may affect gut permeability and trigger autoimmune reactions in those susceptible.

– Belonging to the nightshade family. Some patients report symptoms from nightshades like potatoes, tomatoes, and peppers.

– Having proteins and lectins some consider immunogenic and that may aggravate autoimmune conditions.

More research is needed on the impact of potatoes on autoimmunity and arthritis. Eliminating potatoes may help some patients, while others can tolerate them without issues. Monitoring your individual response is important.

Overall, potatoes eaten in moderation as part of a healthy diet are unlikely to cause autoimmune disease in otherwise healthy people. But those with existing conditions should be cautious.

Are potatoes AIP friendly?

The autoimmune protocol (AIP) diet aims to reduce inflammation and autoimmune symptoms by eliminating foods like grains, dairy, legumes, eggs, nuts, seeds, and nightshades.

Because potatoes belong to the nightshade family, they are not considered AIP friendly and are excluded during the elimination phase of the diet.

After a period avoiding nightshades and other trigger foods, they may be carefully reintroduced to test tolerance. However, some who follow AIP diets permanently exclude potatoes and all nightshades due to sensitivities.

While not part of AIP, potatoes are generally considered suitable for autoimmune diets like paleo or primal as long as they don’t trigger symptoms. Monitoring your individual response is key.

Do potatoes feed Candida overgrowth?

Candida albicans is a type of yeast naturally found in the gut microbiome. When overgrown, it can cause digestive issues and leaky gut.

Dietary strategies to treat Candida aim to cut sugars that may feed overgrowth. So do potatoes feed Candida? Here’s what to know:

– Potatoes have a high starch content that ultimately breaks down into glucose and may exacerbate Candida.

– Potatoes also contain phytochemicals like glycoalkaloids that may have anti-fungal effects against Candida.

– Limiting intake of high-glycemic foods like potatoes for a period may help starve and reduce Candida overgrowth.

– After Candida levels normalize, some find potatoes tolerable in moderation as part of a balanced diet.

Overall there are mixed opinions on whether potatoes should be avoided for Candida. Input from a healthcare practitioner is recommended when changing the diet to treat gut infections.


For most people, potatoes can be part of a healthy, balanced diet and do not commonly cause digestive issues when prepared properly. Their high nutrient content provides benefits.

However, potatoes contain compounds like resistant starch, FODMAPs, and glycoalkaloids that may trigger gut irritation or inflammation in sensitive individuals, especially in those with pre-existing conditions like IBS, autoimmunity, or Candida overgrowth.

Monitoring your personal tolerance, cooking potatoes thoroughly, keeping portions moderate, and consuming them as part of an overall nutritious diet can help mitigate potential digestive concerns. Focus on properly prepared whole potatoes and limit processed versions like fries and chips.

In general potatoes are well-tolerated food for most. But pay attention to your individual response. Consult a healthcare professional if you experience ongoing digestive or inflammatory issues from eating potatoes.