Toning Abs -- the Truth About "white Foods"

by : N. J. Lutes

Have you heard health and fitness professionals warning against potatoes, saying they are a "bad" carbohydrate choice because of the high glycemic index? Some even go so far as to say, "Avoid any and all white carbohydrates." There's been a lot of talk lately about colorful foods and the protective antioxidants that they contain, hence you are told to focus on colors and stay away from white. So what's true, and what's not true?

First of all, we can all agree that white bread and refined white sugar are two of the worst things we can feed our bodies. So there are definitely two white foods to avoid. Secondly, it's true that colorful foods are great. But does that mean we are to avoid all white foods just because colorful foods are so nutritious? Let's take a closer look at these assertions and get some real answers.

There are a number of white foods that contain specific nutrients that are hard to find elsewhere. Here are a few examples.

Onions & Garlic

Two food items that come quickly to mind are onions and garlic. Both are white and they're full of protective phytonutrients, vitamins, and trace minerals that aren't usually found elsewhere in a normal diet. They contain such nutrients as allicin, quercetin (an important flavonoid), chromium, and other unique anti-inflammatory nutrients.


Another example of a white food is cauliflower. Cauliflower is loaded with vitamin C, fiber, minerals, and special compounds such as glucosinolates and thiocyanates. These are compounds are specifically found in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. It's a little-known fact that some of the compounds in cruciferous vegetables help combat other estrogenic compounds in our food supply and environment and can help prevent excess belly fat. So don't skimp on the cauliflower!


The little mushroom is a highly underrated food. Few people realize that even white mushrooms have high levels of unique nutrients and antioxidants. White mushrooms are high in antioxidants called polyphenols and ergothioneine. All mushrooms contain key nutrients such as copper, potassium, folate and niacin.

Each cup of stir-fried white button mushrooms provides 0.3 milligram of copper, which is about one-third of the recommended daily intake for adults. Copper helps the body produce red blood cells and drives a variety of chemical reactions that are key to human health.


This brings us to the lowly potato which has been getting bad press lately. Some health professionals claim that potatoes are a bad carbohydrate because they have a high glycemic index. However, the glycemic index is not necessarily the most important factor in choosing your carbohydrates to lose body fat.

It may be true that most low glycemic index carbohydrate foods will help you lose body fat easier than high glycemic index foods. But there are other factors to be considered in determining how your body will react to, and process, the carbohydrates you ingest, such as glycemic load and also how you combine the high glycemic index food with other foods.

Let's use glycemic load as an example. Watermelon is known to have a high glycemic index. However, the glycemic load of a normal serving of watermelon is way too low for your body to start packing on body fat just because you ate a high glycemic index fruit. You would have to eat an enormous amount of watermelon just to get enough grams of carbohydrates to have a negative glycemic effect.

Plus the fact that watermelon is a great source of vitamins, minerals, and lycopene. It would be silly to avoid it simply because it has a high GI. The point is, candy bars, cupcakes, and donuts make you fat, not watermelon, carrots or potatoes.

Food combinations are also important as to how your body processes carbohydrates and the associated blood sugar and insulin responses you receive. For example, mix a high glycemic index carbohydrate with an extra source of fiber, healthy fats, or even certain proteins. Many times this mixing of foods will slow the blood sugar and glycemic response considerably.

So, back to the lowly white potatoes. This is actually a healthy carbohydrate as long as it is eaten in the right form -- with the entire skin. (Note: please don't ruin potatoes by deep frying them into French fries. French fries are definitely an enemy to good health because of the hydrogenated oils that are typically used to cook them.)

Potatoes contain so many vitamins and minerals that the list is too long to even try to include here. Also, as long as you eat the skins, there's fiber included as well. An average sized potato has only about 100-120 calories.

The point is, an occasional potato isn't going to sabotage your efforts to get lean, especially if you combine it with other fibrous vegetables and maybe a healthy fat and some protein.

Hopefully, this answers all your questions about whether or not white foods are detrimental in your quest to attain a lean body and hard abs. Determine to eat sensibly and don't listen to all the hype out there!