Potatoes are healthier than you think: 6 reasons to eat them

The humble potato is a wonder. The perennial, starchy root vegetable is regularly eaten by more than one billion people worldwide, and annual global production of the crop is now 300 million astronomical tons. (It is the equivalent in weight of a million Boeing 747).

Our collective love of the potato is nothing new, with humans first domesticating these versatile tubers around 8,000 years ago in the South American Andes.

Indigenous communities in this part of the world still have a particularly close culinary relationship with potatoes, but the vegetable’s popularity has spread far beyond the Americas to become a staple in North America, Europe , the UK and beyond.

Despite being America’s most popular vegetable, potatoes sometimes get a bad rap. For example, spud-skeptics draw attention to its high carbohydrate content, which can cause blood sugar spikes as it breaks down. But it’s not as simple as that.

Carbohydrates are an important part of any balanced diet, and potatoes are much more than their starchy sugars. In fact, potatoes are much healthier than you might think. Here’s everything you need to know about their nutritional content, including six reasons to eat them.

Are potatoes bad for you?

Potatoes are classified as complex carbohydrates, meaning a healthier variety that produces a longer-lasting energy boost, but because the human body breaks down its white and starchy carbohydrates fairly quickly, eating potatoes can cause a rise in blood sugar.

For people with health problems like diabetes, this means they should pay close attention to portion size and how eating potatoes affects their blood sugar. But even then, the way the potato is digested doesn’t necessarily mean people should avoid it altogether.

There are also several things you can do to reduce the chances of a sudden spike in blood sugar. These include eating the skin, which contains extra fiber (along with an especially high concentration of vitamins), and pairing potatoes with fibrous, protein-rich foods like beans and vegetables like avocados, which are high in healthy fats.

In plant-based meals, we want to make sure our carbohydrate sources are paired with a good protein source, says Courtney Pelitera, registered dietitian at Top Nutrition Coaching. Plant-based news (PBN).

For example, I’d recommend pairing a mashed potato with something like beans or tofu to provide extra protein, keeping you fuller for longer, she adds.

It’s all about moderation and preparation

Adobe Stock The healthiest way to prepare potatoes is to bake, boil or steam them at home

Smith says PBN that there are several popular myths about potatoes, including misconceptions about carbohydrates and weight gain and oversimplified health narratives that seek magic fixes for obesity, diabetes and chronic disease.

It’s worth noting that the public perception of carbohydrates, including the potato, is heavily influenced by current weight loss trends. Low-carb diets have been in vogue for over 150 years, but in reality, carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy and the brain’s only source of energy, consuming 150g of carbs per day to function.

While they can certainly provide a quick boost and help fuel endurance exercise, they’re also essential for our brain function and overall energy levels throughout the day, explains Danielle Smith, who’s also a registered dietitian in Top Nutrition Coaching. PBN.

In the context of a plant-based diet, carbohydrates play an even more crucial role because they are found in many nutrient-dense foods, she explains. Carbohydrates like potatoes do not need to be avoided. They have a lot to offer nutritionally and can be part of a healthy and varied diet that supports your well-being.

6 reasons to eat more potatoes

Because potatoes are so nutrient dense, eating them regularly has been linked to a variety of confirmed and possible health benefits. However, not all preparation methods are created equal. Highly processed and particularly fatty forms of potato, such as french fries, tater tots, or French fries, can’t compete with the boiled, baked, or steamed varieties you make at home.

It’s all about moderation and preparation, Smith adds. Including them as part of a balanced diet, where you also eat plenty of other vegetables and take into account your total carbohydrate intake, is key. […] Remember that no one food defines health and variety is crucial in a healthy diet. Potatoes can absolutely fit into that approach.”

Potatoes are low in calories

A medium-sized potato contains approximately 155 calories and is almost completely (99.9 percent) fat-free. But because starchy vegetables are also nutrient-dense and extremely filling, they can help control hunger while ensuring a well-balanced diet.

Potatoes are a powerhouse for nutrition, notes Pelitera. [They] they provide around 26-30g of carbohydrates per medium potato and are very filling, making them a great source of carbohydrates in a balanced meal.

But they are full of nutrients

A single medium baked potato (about 173g) contains 4.3g of protein, 36.6g of carbohydrates and 3.8g of fibre. It also contains nearly 30 percent of your RDA for vitamins C, B6, and potassium, along with magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, niacin, and folate.

According to Smith, the nutrients in potatoes can help support the immune system, metabolism and nervous system health, red blood cell formation and skin health. They also support normal blood pressure and heart health, along with digestive health.

Potatoes contain resistant starch

Resistant starch develops when potatoes are cooked and then allowed to cool completely. It is a variety of dietary fiber that the body does not break down and absorbs completely. Instead, it ferments in the large intestine where it feeds beneficial gut bacteria.

Some of the key benefits of resistant starch include promoting gut health, regulating insulin sensitivity, which improves overall blood sugar control, and improving mineral absorption. It’s also resistant starch, in particular, that makes you feel full.

As a dietitian, I often refer to using potatoes as a staple food as a diet trick. They’re a very filling food, so it makes meals more satisfying, says Pelitera.

They are naturally gluten free

About 1% of people have celiac disease, which causes the body’s immune system to attack its own tissues and stop absorbing nutrients when gluten is eaten. In addition, up to 10 per cent of the UK population follow a gluten-free diet for other reasons, including what is known as non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

It can be a challenge to find gluten-free food, especially when eating out, but potatoes are so versatile, and potato dishes are so easily adapted, that it’s great for avoiding gluten.

Potatoes also contain antioxidants

Antioxidants effectively neutralize potentially harmful molecules in the body known as free radicals, which are believed to increase the risk of certain chronic diseases such as diabetes and cancer along with heart disease. (Note: More human-based research is needed in this area.)

Potatoes contain several compounds, including flavonoids, carotenoids and phenolic acids, which act as antioxidants, Smith explains. These can help reduce the risk of chronic disease by fighting oxidative stress in the body.

And they are culturally significant

Potato-based dishes are frequently associated with culturally significant celebrations such as Christmas and Thanksgiving, while many authentic Peruvian dishes (and at least one unique New Year’s tradition) focus on potatoes.

Next May 30, even the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) will celebrate the first International Potato Day, emphasizing its practical and cultural importance along with the need to sustainability and food security in the future.

Beyond their nutritional value, potatoes have significant cultural and historical significance, having been the cornerstone of various global agricultural and culinary traditions for thousands of years, Smith adds. The incorporation of potatoes can bring a lot of diversity of flavors and textures to meals in addition to diversity of nutrients.

5 potato recipes to try at home

A vegan potato gratin made with a dairy-free recipe
Natlicious food Looking for ways to eat more potatoes? Try this creamy garlic potato gratin

Creamy garlic potato gratin

This recipe from Natlicious Food transforms traditionally dairy-based potato gratin into a vegan powerhouse, combining thinly sliced ​​potatoes with plant-based cream cheese. Perfect for a Sunday lunch, a side or even a starter.

Find the recipe here.

Vegan roast potatoes

Featuring recipes from Avant Garde Vegan, So Vegan, BOSH!, Rachel Ama, and School Night Vegan, this collection of roast potato dishes packs a punch. From the simple to the elaborate, each recipe uses different oils, herbs, seasonings and varieties of potatoes for different results.

Find the recipe here.

Potato roasts with tofu

Rosti or rsti is a Swiss dish that resembles a large potato cake that was traditionally eaten for breakfast by farmers. It is mainly made by frying or cooking grated potato until it is crispy and this Viva! The Vegan Recipe Club version is best served with caramelized onion chutney.

Find the recipe here.

Wild potatoes

Patates bravas are a popular example of Spanish tapas. In this version, also from Viva!’s Vegan Recipe Club, you’ll combine chunks of fried potato with spicy tomato and creamy vegan aioli, an emulsified olive oil sauce flavored with garlic.

Find the recipe here.

Creamy potato salad

Food blogger ElaVegan created this vegan potato salad to be free of oil and animal products. It’s creamy, delicious and perfect if you’re trying to increase your resistant starch intake as it includes potatoes that are cooked and then cooled.

Find the recipe here.

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