Are Potatoes Healthy?

Potatoes are a food almost universally loved. Their soft flesh can be baked, roasted, mashed, fried, boiled and more, making it easy to find a style for anyone’s preference. Their versatility makes it difficult to find many dishes that they can’t accompany. However, because of the potato’s high glycemic index and society’s shifting views on carbs, this vegetable — once a staple of the American diet — is becoming increasingly vilified as being unhealthy and “empty” calories. While some forms of cooking are undoubtedly less healthy than others, should they be banned from your plate?

A study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that people who used healthy recipes lost weight — even eating five to seven servings of potatoes a week! Eating large servings or calorie-laden dishes with enormous amounts of butter, cheese or oil will deride most diet plans. But, having spuds as the base ingredient is not necessarily a deal breaker.

Pealing a potato is a mistake many of us make. Numerous beneficial components found in potatoes are from the skin. The vegetable is rich in vitamins B3, B6 and C. Potatoes also contain high amounts of copper, potassium, phosphorus, manganese and pantothenic acid. They also contain almost four grams of fiber and are high in antioxidants. While you might not expect it, they provide four grams of protein and only 160 calories.

Different breeds of potatoes have different nutritional values. For instance, red potatoes have two to three times more antioxidants than white. The pigment that gives their skin its red color has been linked to better visual and neurological health, protection against disease and lower LDL cholesterol. They are lower in carbs, calories and fiber than russet potatoes. While purple and blue potatoes may lower the risk of heart disease and stroke for people with hypertension. Instead of frying potatoes or mashing them with highly calorific add-ins, consider baking or boiling them and serving them topped with salsa or in a healthy vegetable soup or chili.  

Potatoes are high in carbs, and people should watch their intake if they are following a low-carb diet or have blood sugar concerns. However, potatoes are very filling. They leave people feeling more satiated than rice and pasta. In a study, people who ate potatoes instead of pasta or rice had a lower overall calorie intake. With all this in mind, potatoes shouldn’t be maligned as much as they are. The tuber vegetable can be part of a healthy diet when eaten in reasonable portions, with skin and without outrageous toppings. 

May 09, 2019

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