It's time to portion your potatoes. Before you reach for an extra helping of fries, consider this: a recent study published by the New England Journal of Medicine linked long term weight gain with potato products. Yes, our American favorites - French fries and potato chips - are the leading culprits causing those extra pounds to pile on, according to the study, which matched reported eating habits with the subjects' weight gain over four years. The study concluded that an extra daily serving of potatoes, no matter what form, causes weight gain. (Processed meats, red meat, butter and sweet desserts were also associated with weight gain.) On the other hand, additional servings of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and yogurt were among the foods that promoted weight loss.
But potatoes are vegetables, right? Most people know potatoes are high in carbs, but they also pack a lot of calories in a relatively small package. Plus, frying and processing them leaves them drenched in trans fats and salt. To avoid the excess baggage, simply replace your side or snack with fresh fruits and vegetables when they're in season. Not only will you support your local farmers, you'll cut down on your food miles, and if you're creative enough, maybe your taste buds will even discover something new!
We asked several registered dietitians - Samantha Cassetty, nutrition director of the Good Housekeeping Research Institute; Lauren Slayton, founder of Foodtrainers; and Kath Younger, author of the blog katheats.com - for tips on battling the bulge and switching over to low-calorie snacks.
Related: 10 Quick Healthy Breakfast Options
- Swap potato chips with: Easter egg radishes dipped in extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of sea salt
- Swap French fries with: Guacamole and Food Should Taste Good chips ($40 for 12 6-ounce bags at amazon.com)
- Swap potato chips with: 1 small pear sliced and topped with a wedge of The Laughing Cow blue cheese ($4.95 at amazon.com)
- Swap French fries with: 5 Medjool dates stuffed with almonds
- Swap potato chips with: Homemade kale chips (Check out katheats.com's how-to video)
- Swap French fries with: Fresh tangerine sections with a light drizzle of honey and a sprinkle of shredded coconut, or warm edamame with a pinch of sea salt
- Swap potato chips with: Fresh snap peas dipped in Trader Joes's Cilantro and Chive Yogurt Dip
- Swap French fries with: 5 flash-steamed asparagus stalks wrapped in prosciutto and drizzled with balsamic vinegar
For more healthy ideas, check out Good Housekeeping's list of 50 best low calorie snacks.
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Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.