Sunday, September 1, 2013


Whoever does not know that Potato is loaded with starch that is readily converted to glucose in no time once it enters the human digestive system? Diabetics avoid Potato as much as possible precisely for this reason. According to available evidence Potato has a Glycemic Index  (GI) of more than 90 reflecting its ability to release glucose rapidly and just imagine even the dreaded cane sugar has a GI of less than 60 compared Glucose which has a GI of 100. Potato has a tendency to increase glucose level after storing in cold storage which is not desirable to make products like wafers as undesirable browning takes place during frying due to Maillard reaction. The news that one of the R & D institutes under ICAR has developed a variety of Potato that does not increase sugar content on cold storing is indeed welcome as far as food processing industry is concerned. However the joke is the claim that this Potato is good for diabetics! Here is this startling claim by none other than the Head of that institute in a press release recently!  

"The CPRI said sugar or glucose levels in potatoes will not rise with the use of this technology. The institute is also getting a patent for this technology, CPRI director Bir Pal Singh told Deccan Herald on Monday. The breakthrough, Singh said, has been evolved purely for commercial. Low-sugar potatoes with a longer shelf life was otherwise not possible, with sugar level rising in cold storages. The technology raises the hope for potatoes sans sugar being available in markets, something which may bring smile on the faces of the potato-loving diabetic patients. Once the technology is implemented commercially, diabetics with a sweet tooth will possibly find sugar-free potatoes in the nearby vegetable store.  CPRI sources say potatoes contain starch which turns into glucose. In freshly harvested potatoes, the starch content is low at about 1 per cent, but the level of glucose rises beyond 6 per cent in low temperatures. Singh said: "This is the first such technology in the country. This will be a boon for the processing industry. Starch in potatoes turns into sugar and this process is accelerated by an enzyme called invertase. We have silenced this process, in fact stopped it, so that the sugar levels don't increase in potatoes." The technology has "great cold chipping attributes," which controls the rise of sugar level in potatoes. "Transgenic potatoes have reduced expression of the vacuolar and invertase gene resulting in cold induce sweetening resistant potato which is desirable for the processing industry. The breakthrough is an outcome of teamwork and five years of research," Singh added.

It is rather unfortunate that "scientists" in such important positions as Director, exhibits ignorance through such press interactions. Whether sugar is developed or not Potato will always be a taboo as far as diabetics are concerned because of the propensity of its starch to generate and absorb glucose very fast in human body, almost at a rate equal to that of pure glucose itself! As starch is a polymer of glucose its degradation product is glucose and that is the reason for avoiding this tuber crop in diets recommended for diabetic people. 


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