5 Health Benefits of Potatoes & Why You Should Eat Them.
When carbs were demonized in ’90s diet culture, our faithful potatoes also got a bad rap. Which is so rude considering all that potatoes can do for us! I’m talking mash, roasties, wedges, boiled, baked, hash browns, gems or tater tots, chips, crips, and gnocchi...
Thankfully, The United Nations declared 2008 as the “year of the potato?” - what a time to be alive! Our beloved potatoes were recognized due to their position in the frontline in the fight against world hunger and poverty. Due to their growing adaptability and high nutritional value potatoes have been adopted in countries facing food security issues. (Jansky, 2019) It’s true, not all hero's wear capes!
Based on this potato consumption has increased in Africa and Asia, and because of the – CRAZY - FAD diet culture in developed countries, potato consumption has experienced a sharp decline since 1994 (Jansky, 2019.)
As you can tell I’m a hardcore potato lover from both a nutritional standpoint and someone who loves to cook. So, let's unpack the nutritional profile that got potatoes on the front line.
1. Filled with Nutrients, Vitamins & Minerals - Based of a medium 150g potato
Firstly, let’s address this carb ‘issue.’ One medium-sized potato (150g) contains around 26.1g of carbohydrate which the Australian dietary guidelines recommend you have 225-325g of per day because carbs are an essential macro nutrient that give us energy, which you... know we need … to survive!
Now that energy is checked off the list we can get down to the nitty-gritty. A 150g potato’s nutrient profile consists of;
- Magnesium: Found mostly in the skin, a potato contains 43.5mg of magnesium. The recommended daily intake (RDI) is 255-330mg per day. Magnesium is important for bone health, muscle and nerve function, and regulating both blood sugar levels and pressure.
- Potassium: Found in the flesh, a potato contains roughly 864mg. The RDI is 2,800 –3,800 making potatoes a great source of potassium. Potassium is responsible for maintaining fluid in our cells, muscle contraction, and supporting normal blood pressure.
- Vitamin C: Also found in the flesh, a potato contains 28.5mg of vitamin C, the RDI is 190-220mg. A well-known vitamin for assisting our immune system, it’s also involved the growth, development and repair of cells.
- B Vitamins: Potatoes contain small amounts of B vitamins like B3 Niacin 3.4mg, B9 Folate 28.5ug, and B1 Thiamin 0.1mg. B vitamins all specialize in different areas, but overall, they impact our energy levels, cell metabolism and brain function.
2. A Source of Antioxidants
As mentioned above, potatoes contain vitamin c, they also contain polyphenols both of which are powerful antioxidants, that help protect our cells from damage. Their antioxidant activities have been shown to have positive effects on our gut health as they protect our intestinal lining from damage. You can learn more about antioxidants here.
3. A Support For Your Gut Health
Potatoes also contain fibre which helps our satiety and is great for our gut. The skin on your trusty potato contains 3.6g of fibre, the RDI is 28-38g per day, so think before you peel!
Potatoes also contain resistant starch, which has been shown to stabilize blood sugar levels, decrease inflammation and may promote weight loss. Resistant starch plays an important role in our digestive system as it feeds our good bacteria and the cells in our colon (Jansky, 2019.)
4. Potatoes and Weight loss
As mentioned above potatoes contain resistant starch and fibre which stabilize blood sugar levels helping us maintain energy throughout the day and potentially promoting weight loss. Our bodies break down carbohydrates into glucose, so eating potatoes can also help curb sugar cravings and hunger after a meal. Of course, it depends on how you eat your potatoes. Baked, roasted, and boiled are the healthiest options that will assist in a healthy balanced diet and therefore may promote weight loss.
Like anything, there is no magic food group or quick fix for weight loss. Eating a well-balanced diet with a wide variety of nutritious food groups, while incorporating regular exercise and adequate sleep, are factors in a sustainable approach to weight loss. If you are looking to lose weight or are struggling to lose weight you should reach out to a health professional like a local nutritionist, GP, or dietitian. They will be able to create a unique approach to suit your needs.
5. Coeliac Certified
Unlike many other carbohydrates, potatoes are naturally gluten-free, making them a great substitute for carbohydrates that do contain gluten.
3. So How Can I Incorporate Healthy Potatoes Into My Diet?
All in all, potatoes are good for you and should be incorporated into your diet along with other fresh produce. The healthiest way to have your potatoes are boiled, baked, roasted with olive oil, and mashed (without loads of butter.) And have your fried spuds in moderation! Like with your parma at the pub.
But before you go eating potatoes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, remember everything in moderation!
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Jansky, S., Navarre, R. & Bamberg, J. Introduction to the Special Issue on the Nutritional Value of Potato. Am. J. Potato Res. 96, 95–97 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12230-018-09708-1
Nutrient Reference Value Australia and New Zealand:
The Good Mood Food: