The Health and Nutritional Benefits of Potatoes


In most developed countries, potatoes are among the most important staple crops. However, many people in those nations think of potatoes as simply something that are tasty and filling. Potatoes are a lot more than just comfort foods, though.

The following information is regarding the potato tuber. All other parts of the potato, including the stems, leaves and flowers are inedible. This is understandable since this plant, which originated in Central America, is a member of the deadly nightshade family.

Potatoes for dieters

Potatoes are well suited for helping people lose weight. A medium sized potato (about a third of a pound) has no fat, no cholesterol and no sodium, yet it only has 110 calories. That is with the potato skins included. About a fifth of the nutrition of a potato comes from the skin.

Potatoes for vitamins and minerals

According to the self nutrition data website, 2 cups of baked potato (about 2/3 pounds) contains almost 100 percent of the vitamins C and B6 that an average adult requires each day. Potatoes are also very good sources of Niacin, Thiamin, Folate and Pantothenic Acid.

Potatoes are also packed with minerals. They are high in iron, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, zinc and potassium. In fact, potatoes contain more potassium than spinach, bananas or broccoli. Additionally, potatoes are high in fiber, so they help the digestive system.

This vegetable may even help fight cancer or prevent it. This is in part because of the amount of fiber found in potatoes and partly because they also contain Omega-3 fatty acids. This vegetable also contains other antioxidants. Potatoes are even one of the best sources of starch we can get in our diets.

In comparison, brown rice contains far less vitamin C, less than one tenth as much potassium, less than half as much niacin and thiamine, much less than half as much pantothenic acid, less magnesium, less iron, less zinc, though more manganese, all for about the same calories. (Rice is used in comparison because rice, wheat and potatoes account for most of the starches that are consumed, world-wide.)

Studies on potatoes

Several studies have shown that people who eat potatoes tend to lose weight, depending on what they put on the potatoes. The studies also indicate that most Americans don’t get enough potassium in their diets and that if they started eating potatoes, the amount of potassium would be to levels that an adult needs. The US Dietary Guidelines stipulate that potatoes should be part of a balanced diet.

Other healthy aspects of potatoes

The fiber in potatoes can aid in maintaining healthy blood sugar levels, which is helpful for diabetics.

Versatility of potatoes

The number of ways that potatoes can be prepared seems almost endless. They can be fried, boiled, broiled, baked, steamed and roasted. They can be served mashed and potatoes can even be used as a thickener for gravies, soups and stews. Used in this way, potatoes are superior to corn starch. They can be made into healthy bread or pastries, too, and since the flavor isn’t strong, other vegetables, meats, fish and seasonings can readily be used with potatoes.

Potatoes also don’t require extremely large amounts of water like rice and other grains, so it isn’t particularly difficult to grow them.

Interestingly, the United States is the fourth largest potato producer, as of 2007. More potatoes are grown in India and Russia. China produces the most, growing over three times as many potatoes each year as the US does. (China is also the top producer of rice and wheat, followed by India.)

This is a vegetable that is among the healthiest foods that are available to people, in general. Pound for pound, they are also one of the least expensive. If you want to take care of your health, eat more potatoes.


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