How do I know if I need carbohydrates in my diet?

23 Aug 2021

There is no shortage of “extreme” diets on social media, some of which promote cutting down or eliminating carbohydrates altogether. While many of these “radical diets” are often paddled by so-called food experts and bloggers, one still can’t help but wonder if carbohydrates are needed as part of a balanced diet.  Popular opinions regarding carbs A study of […]

There is no shortage of “extreme” diets on social media, some of which promote cutting down or eliminating carbohydrates altogether. While many of these “radical diets” are often paddled by so-called food experts and bloggers, one still can’t help but wonder if carbohydrates are needed as part of a balanced diet. 

Popular opinions regarding carbs

study of potato consumption in South Africa conducted for Potatoes SA: A comparative study of the results of 2014 and 2019 shed more light on South African views and perceptions regarding carbs. One question was, “when it comes to food, what is most important to you?” Out of a possibility of 10 core reasons, the options for low carb foods and high carb foods scored the least in both studies. 

This suggests that even on the ground, apart from social platforms, South African consumers may also question the importance of carbs when making food purchasing decisions. With this said, taste, versatility and convenience came out as the top three needs for consumers when making food purchases – and potatoes excelled in ticking all three of these boxes.

Dangers of high-protein and low-carbohydrate eating plans

In addition to views on the ground, a quick search on social media is all it takes to awaken a host of “advice” columns advocating against carbohydrates in any form and shape. It is worth noting, though, that contrary to the controversial myths and trending conversations; low carbohydrate diets can result in fatigue and dehydration caused by increased protein metabolism, which may also place a strain on your kidneys. High-protein and low-carbohydrate eating plans may show some external physical results, but their long-term effects may be downright questionable. 

The benefits of carbohydrates, such as is found in potatoes

By restricting our intake of carbohydrates, we may lower the body’s intake of dietary fibre, such as is found on potato skins. Fibre plays a role in healthy digestion and weight management. Furthermore, the starch in potatoes yields glucose that is essential for our mental and physical energy. All things said and done, carbohydrates, can and do, form part of a healthy diet. 

Rather opt for starchy foods like potatoes because they contain dietary fibre and are close to their natural form (as opposed to overly processed starches). It is also commendable how starch like potatoes contribute to your nutritional intake. Cooked with their skin on and in a heart healthy way such as grilled, baked or boiled: Potatoes are high in carbohydrates, naturally free of fat, and naturally very low in sodium. They also have among the highest level of potassium when compared to other vegetables and starchy foods! Visit our potato-inspired recipes for food inspiration.

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