In recent years the poor potato has been given an unfairly bad press. Full of fast digesting white carbs we hear! Sends your blood sugar all over the place and makes you grumpy! Makes you put on weight!

However, newer research shows that the potato, when cooled down, is actually a cheap and nutritious superfood, able to help weight loss, improve mood and boost the immune system.

Let me explain. When potatoes are cooked through, then left to cool down, they form a firm texture. Next time you boil some potatoes and they cool down, take note. This is the resistant starch forming.

When you eat resistant starch, it can’t be digested properly in the stomach and small intestine, so it actually can make you feel fuller for longer than when you eat hot potatoes.

Resistant starch is known as a prebiotic – i.e. it contains a type of fibre able to survive all the way to the colon. When they arrive they provide food for the good bacteria, which feed, thrive and proliferate on them.

The colon is full of trillions of bacteria, known as the microbiome.

These microbes modulate our weight and mood. The microbiome signals to our hunger hormones to tell us to eat appropriately for our needs. When it is out of balance we can feel cravings and our metabolism can be affected. We can also feel in a bad mood as signals pass between the microbiome in the gut to the brain. No wonder the gut is now dubbed “the second brain”. This is why feeding the good bacteria the right stuff is vital.

So this summer, enjoy the humble potato salad. Not only is it delicious, but it may help control your weight and make you feel happier too.

Here is my recipe, a German-style potato salad with extra virgin olive oil, which contains plant chemicals called polyphenols which also act as a nutrient to feed your good bacteria in the colon.

  • 750g new potatoes, washed and boiled with skins on until tender
  • 1⁄2 white onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tsp French mustard
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1⁄2 cup chicken stock (bring this to room temperature if it is jellified from the fridge, so it is in liquid form)
  • 1⁄2 tsp sea salt

Slice the potatoes into thin circles and place in a salad bowl. In another bowl, mix together the onions, mustard, oil, vinegar, stock and salt with a fork, then add this to the potatoes and let it soak in.

Further reading

What is leaky gut syndrome?

Helping your child develop a healthy relationship with food

Stress, IBS and the gut-brain axis

Brain food: eating for a healthy mind

Why taking care of your gut could improve your mental health