Red, white, yellow gold, fingerlings, russet, blue/purple...makes no difference to me. I love all potatoes. I loved baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, boiled potatoes, steamed potatoes, fried potatoes, roasted, twice-baked, hash browned, French fried. And I love potato soup. And potato ice cream. Just kidding, I’ve never had that.
But everyone always seems to be hatin’ on the potato. The potato first started to acquire a bad wrap during the low-carb craze of the early 2000’s, lumped in with all the white foods that are making us fat. But I’m here to tell you that it’s not the potato that packs on the pounds. It’s the company it keeps on our plate. Butter, sour cream, cheese, bacon...and it’s also how we are preparing them. In other words, it’s not the potato in the french fries that is rounding out our waistline; it’s the oil we are frying them in.
So, I stand here in defense of this humble tuber, begging the world to stop villainizing. Here are my 12 reasons to eat MORE potatoes.
1. The potato is a nutritional powerhouse: White potatoes are among the most nutritious vegetable in the world. And research shows potatoes contain phytochemicals, with antioxidant activity, such as flavonoids and carotenoids. Here's a breakdown of the nutritional value for a medium white potato, with skin:
2. Low in fat and calories: The potato in the picture above has just 120 calories and 0g fat.
3. Spuds are satiating: Potatoes are ranked high on the satiety index, meaning they make you feel full and satisfied longer. Our brains act like the fuel gauge in our cars, directing you to fill up when we are on empty. Foods high in resistant starch, like potatoes, flip on every fullness switch in the brain and release fullness hormones in the intestine and make your cells more resistant to insulin.
4. Potatoes Support Weight Loss: New research shows that potatoes help people lose weight, and not just sweet potatoes, but white potatoes too. In a study conducted by the University of California, Davis, three groups were assigned diets ranging in 5-7 servings of potatoes per week. One group was eating potatoes every day. Subjects were closely monitored for dietary compliance. All three groups lost weight, further disproving that potatoes cause weight gain.
5. Potassium: Potassium is the key to healthy blood pressure. Potatoes pack 620mg of potassium, 18% of the recommended daily dose of this hard-to-get mineral. They actually rankest highest for potassium content of the 20 most frequently consumed raw fruits and vegetables, including the more well known source for potassium, the banana.
6. Vitamin C: Potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C, providing us with 45% of the daily recommendation...which is more than their famous cousin, the sweet potato!
7. Fiber: Potatoes are considered to be a fiber rich food, having an average 2g fiber per tuber. A potato with its skin is considered a high fiber food.
8. You can live on them: From Ireland to China, evidence shows that humans, historically, have survived on potatoes and little else, thanks to their nutritional content. This same evidence shows that these populations getting 70-80% of their calories from potatoes were also very lean.
Take a look at Australian, Andrew Taylor, who found recent fame by vowing to eat nothing but potatoes in 2016 in an effort to cure his binge eating. Not only has the man from Melbourne reportedly lost over 100 lbs, but says he’s sleeping better and has cured his depression and joint pain, lowered his cholesterol, sugar levels and blood pressure.
And the plant-based community took it as a personal victory when Mark Watney, the space botanist character played by Matt Damon in 2015’s, The Martian, survived being stranded on Mars on a diet of cleverly harvested potatoes.
9. Potatoes are cost effective: If you want the most bang for your buck, potatoes offer the greatest ROI. In fact, a recent study showed potatoes deliver an excellent nutritional value per penny, second only to beans. Potatoes provide an affordable source for essential nutrients like magnesium, fiber, and Vitamins C, E, and K. And they're the most cost-effective source of potassium out of all food groups.
10. Eating Potatoes Helps the Economy: The potato is the fourth most widely consumed vegetable in the world. And, it’s a big money maker for American farmers. Potatoes are the leading crop grown in the U.S. In 2010, the U.S. exported $3.8 billion worth of potatoes. Japan, China and Mexico are leading buyers of stateside spuds. Potatoes are grown in 30 U.S. states, with Idaho, Washington, and Wisconsin rounding out the top three.
11. They Fight Cancer: Sweet potatoes and other colorful potatoes are rich in antioxidants such as carotenes, the precursor to Vitamin K.
12. A word on Sweet Potatoes: Only distantly related to the potato and not part of the same nightshade family, sweet potatoes tend to get lumped in with the regular potatoes because they are prepared the same way.
Sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene, which our bodies convert to vitamin K. Carotenoids, the powerful form of antioxidants, can fight cancer and heart disease. These tuberous root vegetables contain 438% of your daily value of Vitamin A, which is essential for building a strong immune system. Vitamin A is essential for areas in the body that go haywire when we catch a cold. It keeps the mucous linings in the nose and throat, our bodies first line of defense, healthy and functioning properly. Sweet potatoes deliver 37% of vitamin C plus Vitamin B6, potassium, iron and calcium all in just 105 calories! They also contain 4g of dietary fiber, 16% of your daily value and zero grams of fat.
Though I often enjoy eating potatoes plain, either as a breakfast or as a satisfying, low-calorie snack, here are some fun and flavorful tips to prepare them without all the added fat:
Tips for Storing Potatoes:
The Martian, starring Matt Damon
Jeanmare and Cristy are creators and contributors of the Living Simply Nourished Blog. Grab a cup of tea (or coffee!), find a cozy spot, scroll around, read some stories, find some inspiration, and enjoy!
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