Are Potatoes Healthy Or Unhealthy?

Vegetables are all healthy. Nevertheless, potatoes have stirred some debate even though it is a versatile root vegetables. In general, potatoes are associated commonly with processed and fried junk foods. 

What are potatoes?

Potatoes originated in South American Andes. Today, they are cultivated in more than 160 countries. There are 1500 to 2000 varieties of potatoes differing in size, color, and nutrients. Many varieties have similar components – starch flesh covered with thin peel rich in nutrients. 

You can enjoy dishes made from steamed, roasted, or baked potato in oven. Check the Potatoes USA blog to learn more about the nutrients of different potato varieties.

Nutrients in potatoes

One medium-sized Russet baked potato comprising of skin and flesh offers –

  • 168 – calories
  • 0 gm. – fats 
  • 5 gm. – proteins
  • 37 gm. – carbs
  • 4 gm. – fibers
  • 24 mg. – sodium
  • 37% – Vitamin C
  • 31% – Vitamin B6
  • 27% – Potassium
  • 20% – Manganese

The nutrient outline depends on the potato type. For example, the red potato variety contains less fiber, carbs, and calories than the Russet potato but is high in niacin and Vitamin K. 

Antioxidants in potatoes

Antioxidants prevent free radical formation. Radicals are reactive atoms, which accumulate in the body and cause chronic diseases. According to research, antioxidants are capable to prevent diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. 

Potatoes are rich in antioxidants including specific kinds of carotenoids, flavonoids, and phenolic acids.

A study, focused on comparing the antioxidant activities of colored and white potatoes revealed that the former is competent to neutralize free radicals efficiently. 

Another study reported that antioxidants in potatoes can reduce cancer growth associated with the colon and liver. 

Resistant starch in potatoes

Resistant starch means indigestible in the small intestine. However, it passes through the large intestine, where the good bacteria feed on it. Potatoes are a good resistant starch source and are associated with health benefits like insulin sensitivity, blood sugar control, nutrient absorption, digestive health, and satiety level. 

Potatoes are filling

In a study, it was found that boiled potatoes offer the highest satiety rating in comparison to croissants. Another study compared potatoes, rice, and pasta, where potatoes were more satiating as well as led to the greatest decrease in total calorie intake. 

The skin of the potato comprises a good fiber level that moves slowly moving undigested promoting fullness and suppressing hunger. 

Glycoalkaloids in potatoes

Glycoalkaloids are potentially toxic. These chemical compounds available in potatoes are of two types called chaconine and solanine. Potatoes produce chlorophyll in sunlight which turns them green. Chlorophyll does not indicate spoilage but increases glycoalkaloid concentrations. 

Glycoalkaloids can be noxious if consumed at a high level. It can aggravate digestive health, and increase insulin sensitivity, and drowsiness. Around 60% to 70% of the total Glycoalkaloid is in the potato skin. Proper storage [low temperature] is essential to reduce Glycoalkaloid content. 

Which is the healthy way of cooking potatoes?

Boiling, steaming, and baking are the best cooking way of reducing calorie and fat content in comparison to frying. Choose whole potatoes rather than processed products to reduce calorie, fat, and sodium content. Choose healthy toppings on your potatoes to enhance their nutrient profile and cook a nutritious dish.  

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