Are potatoes healthier than bread?
In this brief guide, we will answer the question, “Are potatoes healthier than bread?” with an in-depth analysis of the nutritional composition of bread and potatoes.
Read on to know if and when potatoes are considered healthier than bread.
Are potatoes healthier than bread?
No, both potatoes and bread have similar nutritional characteristics, although they also show some differences. Both are rich sources of complex carbohydrates but keep in mind that all carbohydrates are not the same; other nutrients are also present in either food.
Different forms of bread and potatoes may have important differences in nutritional values. We will compare here the most common ones: commercial white bread and white potatoes.
What is the nutritional composition of bread and potatoes?
White Bread (1)
A 100 gram serving of white bread provides:
- Water: 35.7 grams
- Calories: 270 Kcal
- Carbohydrates: 49.2 grams
- Dietary Fiber: 2.3 grams
- Sugars: 5.3 grams
- Fats: 3.5 grams
- Proteins: 9.4 grams
- Sodium: 477 milligrams
- Potassium: 117 milligrams
Whole-wheat Bread (2)
A 100 gram serving of whole-wheat bread provides:
- Water: 38.7 grams
- Calories: 254 Kcal
- Carbohydrates: 43.1 grams
- Dietary Fiber: 6 grams
- Sugars: 4.4 grams
- Fats: 3.5 grams
- Proteins: 12.3 grams
- Sodium: 450 milligrams
- Potassium: 250 milligrams
Raw Potatoes (3)
A 100 gram serving of raw potato provides:
- Water: 81.6 grams
- Calories: 69 Kcal
- Carbohydrates: 15.7 grams
- Dietary Fiber: 2.4 grams
- Fats: 0.1 grams
- Proteins: 1.7 grams
- Sodium: 16 milligrams
- Potassium: 407 milligrams
Are the health benefits of potatoes and bread comparable?
The overall nutritional composition is very similar. Both are foods high in complex carbohydrates. They are rich energy sources and essential in a well balanced diet.
Bread provides much greater amounts of protein and a greater density of carbohydrates due to its lower water content. Whole-wheat bread is very similar, only it provides a lot more fiber, a little more protein and less sodium than white bread.
Bread, especially whole-wheat, provides greater amounts than potatoes of the vitamins thiamin, riboflavin and niacin. On the other hand, potatoes provide greater amounts than bread of vitamin B6 and vitamin C. They also are a much greater source of potassium as compared to bread (1–3).
In brief, in a normal diet, for a healthy person with no intolerances, both bread and potatoes are very similar.
What about the different types of carbohydrates in potatoes and bread?
Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for our body and brain. They are divided into three kinds: starch, fiber, and sugars.
Starch and fiber are complex carbohydrates. Starchy carbohydrates get digested, while fiber does not. Sugars are the building blocks of starch and fiber. When not making part of starch and fiber, we call them free sugars, simple carbohydrates or just sugars.
Because fiber is not digestible, foods rich in fiber can make you feel full, which restricts you from overeating.
Complex carbohydrates also can make you feel full because they need some time to be digested. They need to be broken down into simple carbohydrates to be absorbed. Free sugars are absorbed directly.
Which one is better for diabetics? Glycemic index and blood sugar
Both bread and potatoes are equally good (or bad) for diabetics because they have a similar, moderately high Glycemic Index (GI) (4).
The free sugar in your blood is called glucose. Its concentration needs to be controlled and the body uses a system based on insulin for that. In a healthy body, The concentration of glucose elevates temporarily with meals, and the type of meal ingested affects how much it elevates.
The glycemic index (GI) is an approximate measure of how much a food can elevate the concentration of free glucose in your blood after a meal. The greater the GI, the greater the elevation. Free sugars show the greatest GI.
Complex carbohydrates, like the starch in bread and potatoes, show a moderate GI because they need time to be digested and absorbed into your body.
Diabetics need to take care of eating low or moderate GI foods because their insulin system may not work correctly and free glucose elevation in their blood after a meal may become dangerously high.
Diabetes patients need to take care and control intake of either potatoes or bread.
Can potatoes substitute bread in a weight-control diet?
Substituting bread with potatoes may be a good strategy to control our food intake.
If we need to control our weight, a common strategy is to limit our food intake. However, if we eat too little our body does not get satiated and we keep feeling hungry. That feeling can be a real trouble to keep a control on the amount of food we eat in a meal.
The satiety index (SI) is an approximate measure of how a food makes us feel full. Bread is taken as the standard and given arbitrarily the value of 100 (5). Potatoes show a SI of 323. For that reason, potatoes will make us feel satiated with a lower amount than bread.
How about bread and potatoes in special diets?
Potatoes may be a good substitute for bread in the case of gluten intolerance (celiac disease) since they have no detectable gluten.
Bread, especially if supplemented with grains or bran, may be a better option if your food is low on proteins or vitamins. Also, whole-grain breads may help intestinal transit.
Other FAQs about Potatoes that you may be interested in.
In this brief guide, we have provided an answer to the question, “Are potatoes healthier than bread?” with an in-depth analysis of the nutritional composition of bread and potatoes. We have also discussed when potatoes are considered healthier than bread and vice versa.
1. White Bread-FoodData Central [Internet]. [cited 2023 Apr 13]. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/325871/nutrients
2. Whole-wheat bread-FoodData Central [Internet]. [cited 2023 Apr 15]. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/335240/nutrients
3. Potatoes-FoodData Central [Internet]. [cited 2023 Apr 13]. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170028/nutrients
4. Glycemic index for 60+ foods – Harvard Health [Internet]. [cited 2023 Apr 13]. Available from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/glycemic-index-and-glycemic-load-for-100-foods