Are Potatoes Healthy?

Are Potatoes Healthy?

You may have heard your parents say that green foods are good for you, while the color “white” signals an absence of nutrition. While this might be true of white flour and white sugar, white potatoes are another matter altogether. 

Potatoes are packed full of nutrition and can be very healthy, depending on how they’re prepared. Keep reading to learn more about what nutrients are found in potatoes and how you can enjoy these root vegetables as part of a healthy, balanced diet. 

Potato Nutrition and Calories

Here’s what the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has to say about the nutritional value of an average potato: 

  • Calories: 118
  • Carbohydrates: 27.3 grams
  • Protein: 2.54 grams
  • Fiber: 2.45 grams
  • Sugars: 1.24 grams
  • Fat: 0.136 grams
  • Potassium: 515 milligrams
  • Phosphorus: 59.8 milligrams
  • Magnesium: 29.9 milligrams

Because of how potatoes store nutrients, it’s healthiest to eat them with the skin or peel them after they are cooked. Most of the fiber in a potato is found in the skin, while the majority of other nutrients are found in the flesh. 

The Health Benefits of Potatoes

Although potatoes are technically a vegetable, they’re often treated differently because of their high carbohydrate content. However, potatoes are an excellent source of fiber and contain many vitamins and minerals. Here are several potato benefits to consider: 

Potatoes Are Filling

Because of the way potatoes break down in your body, they help you feel and stay full for longer. A potato-rich meal is nourishing, especially when paired with healthy fats and protein. 

Because they’re so filling, potatoes can help you avoid snacking. Eating frequently throughout the day can spike your blood sugar and contribute to weight gain. By adding potatoes to your diet, you can support better habits and give your body the energy it needs. 

Potatoes Keep You Regular

One of the reasons it’s essential to eat vegetables is because of their high fiber content. Fiber cleans out your system and ensures you don’t get constipated. By eating potatoes — and especially potato skins — you can help keep your body regular. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, women need about 21-25 grams of fiber a day, while men should be consuming closer to 30-38 grams per day. One potato has 3-4 grams of fiber, depending on the size. Other good sources of fiber include legumes, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. 

Are Potatoes Healthy?

Potatoes Support Gut Health

While you may have heard of probiotics, prebiotics are just as important. These compounds create a healthy environment for beneficial microorganisms to thrive in your gut. When your gut is healthy, your body can absorb the nutrients it needs to stay healthy and function well. 

The starch in potatoes gets broken down and fermented in your gut, supporting probiotics and the overall health of your body. Eating cooked potatoes cold can increase this effect, but make sure you store the potatoes properly so they stay safe to eat. 

Potatoes Are Rich in Potassium

Eating the proper amount of potassium can help regulate your blood sugar and protect the health of your heart. According to Medical News Today, men should consume about 3,400 milligrams of potassium a day, and women should consume about 2,600 milligrams a day.

Potatoes are an excellent source of potassium and can help you meet these health goals. To get the full amount of potassium, avoid peeling your potatoes and consume both the peel and the flesh. 

Potatoes Have Antioxidants

Eating antioxidants can protect you from free radicals, which damage cells and DNA. Your body can become overloaded with free radicals either from exposure to toxins like cigarette smoke or because of natural physical processes. 

The antioxidants in potatoes and other nutrient-rich foods can reduce the impact of free radicals, protect your body and strengthen your immune system. Potatoes include the antioxidants vitamin C, vitamin A, copper, zinc and selenium. 

Healthy Ways to Eat Potatoes

While french fries may be your potato meal of choice, they’re not the healthiest way to enjoy potatoes. Loading up a baked potato with sour cream, butter and cheese isn’t the healthiest option either. The toppings and preparation method you choose can have a big impact on whether your next potato meal is healthy. 

Thankfully, there are many delicious and healthy ways to enjoy potatoes. Staying healthy doesn’t mean missing out — in fact, healthy options have more diverse flavors and offer a wide variety of dishes. Here are several tips to help you create healthy, delicious potato dishes.

Pair Potatoes With Protein and Healthy Fats

Potatoes have a high glycemic index, which means they can spike your blood sugar. However, pairing them with the right foods can change the way your body processes the carbohydrates in potatoes. With the right dishes, you can enjoy all the benefits of potatoes without negatively impacting your blood sugar levels. 

One of the healthiest ways to enjoy potatoes is to pair them with high-protein foods, healthy fats and fiber-rich foods. These combinations slow down your digestion and protect your blood sugar levels. They also create a balanced meal that nourishes your body. 

Top Them With Spices and Herbs

Another way to benefit from potatoes is to pair them with a variety of spices and herbs. When you eat potatoes with heaping amounts of sour cream, cheese, butter and bacon, your meal becomes unbalanced and less healthy. 

Using spices, herbs and extra virgin olive oil instead is a great way to make delicious potato dishes with extensive health benefits. Many herbs contain antioxidants and other healthy components that support a healthy body and brain. Experiment with new combinations and enjoy the many flavors that herbs have to offer!

Cook Potatoes With the Skin On

Because potato skins are so rich in nutrients, it’s best to cook potatoes before you remove the skins. That way, the majority of these nutrients are preserved in your meal. You can also cook and eat skins separately for the full nutritional benefits. 

Many people also save and reuse the water they cook potatoes in because it’s so rich in natural starch. Potato water can be a fantastic replacement for milk in some recipes, and many people use it to make potato bread

Order Healthy Potatoes From Keystone Potato Products

At Keystone Potato Products, we supply schools, restaurants and other businesses with locally sourced and high-quality potatoes from the Pennsylvania area. Our range of potato products includes fresh-cut potatoes, potato flakes and flour, and whole-peeled potatoes to meet your specific needs. Contact us today for wholesale potato products, or call us at (570) 695-0909 to learn more!

Are Potatoes Healthy?