Potatoes are cheap, versatile, and nutritious. They have health benefits and are easy to store. Remember to add them to your grocery list.
Potatoes are nightshades. The etymology of this word isn't clear. They are part of the Solanaceae family, along with eggplants, tomatoes, and peppers. Many other plants are part of this family, and some are toxic to humans.
Potatoes come from South America. They became popular in Europe during the 16th century, and later on, they reached all corners of the world.
We use potatoes to make French fries, mashed potatoes (potato puree), potato flour, potato chips, baked potatoes, and more. The cooking method determines how healthy the dish is. Boiling and steaming are the top choices.
Potatoes are not on the food list dieticians write for their patients because they are associated with weight gain and cardiovascular disease. The things that come to mind when talking about including potatoes in a dietary regime are mostly negative; the first assumption is that it will lead to an increase in empty calories, carbs, and fat.
Popular potato foods sometimes contain more fat than carbs. However, if cooked without the extra fat, potatoes provide nutrients that the body needs, and they shouldn't be treated like a menace.
Continue reading to find out the potato nutritional value and health benefits. You will also find great storage tips.
If you want to jump to a specific topic, such as the potato diet, simply click one of the links above.
Potatoes are rich in carbohydrates with low amounts of high-quality protein. Here are the nutrition facts for 100g of boiled potatoes, with skin:
- Calories 87
- Protein 1.9g
- Carbs 20.1g, out of which sugars 0.9g and fiber 1.8g
- Fat 0.1g
- Vitamin C 13mg - 22% RDA
- Vitamin B6 0.3mg - 15% RDA
- Potassium 379mg - 11% RDA
The dominant type of carbohydrate found in potatoes is starch. They don't contain high amounts of sugars, but their glycemic index (GI) is high. Foods with a high GI cause an increase in blood sugar levels. As a consequence, white potatoes are not suitable for people with diabetes.
Sweet potatoes and yams have a low GI as long as they are boiled. When you bake them, the GI increases.
The protein content of potatoes is low, but the biological value is between 90 and 100, which is very high. Compared to corn, rice, and other grains, protein quality is much better.
Potatoes contain adequate quantities of potassium and vitamin C. However, most of the vitamin C is lost during the cooking process. Steaming is probably the only cooking method that doesn't affect vitamin C levels as much as boiling.
Potatoes are also a good source of resistant starch. It is a type of fiber that helps the good bacteria in your gut grow, enhancing digestion.
The Potato Diet
What is the potato diet?
It might sound weird, but it's nothing new. The idea started back in 1849, and it became popular again in 2016 when Tim Steele published Potato Hack: Weight Loss Simplified.
Steele states that potatoes are amazing for weight loss, and they even improve your overall health.
The potato diet promises that you will lose almost half a kilogram per day as long as you eat nothing but potatoes for three to five days.
Many people swear by this diet, but it hasn't been backed up by science. Here are the guidelines for this diet:
- Eat only white potatoes for three to five days.
- Eat between 2 to 5 pounds (0.9–2.3 kg) of potatoes each day.
- Do not season the potatoes. Try to avoid condiments or any other ingredients when following the diet.
- Avoid salt as much as possible.
- Drink only water, plain tea, or black coffee.
- If you want to exercise, opt for light cardio.
- Do not take supplements if they weren't prescribed by your doctor.
However, you need to ask yourself this question: Can you stick to it in the long term? If you cannot, you might end up gaining back all the weight you've lost, making all those efforts (that might even cause health side effects) in vain.
The only reason why this diet might work is that it is low in calories. Studies show that low-fat diets can help you lose weight. Any restriction in calories will also help you drop the pounds. This is not a healthy approach.
To summarize, the potato diet is an extremely restrictive fad diet, doesn't have all the nutrients your body needs, and may lead to health issues if followed for a long time.
What Are The Benefits Of Potatoes?
Can Improve Digestive Health.
Potatoes contain resistant starch. This type of fiber is more of a prebiotic, and your friendly gut bacteria (probiotics) need prebiotics to develop.
The resistant starch from potatoes helps the probiotics make butyrate, an ester of butyric acid. The whole process helps the body reduce inflammation in the colon, and might even prevent colon cancer.
Most of the studies were made on animals, and further human testing is necessary before doctors can tell you to start eating potatoes to subdue your IBS symptoms.
Potatoes Are Gluten-Free
Nowadays, there are so many gluten-free products because so many people face undesired symptoms after consuming foods containing this protein.
Wheat, rye, barley, and spelt contain gluten. These grains (wheat in particular) are the staple ingredients of baked products. However, if you suffer from celiac disease or have some sort of gluten sensitivity, you can get your carbs from other sources, such as potatoes.
CautionNot all potato foods or dishes are gluten-free!
Make sure you read the list of ingredients or ask the person who prepared the dish what's inside.
Potatoes Are More Filling Than Other Foods
A study compared fruits, bakery products, snack foods, carbohydrate-rich foods, protein-rich foods, and breakfast cereals. The scientists wanted to see which one is the most filling, and from all these common foods, boiled potatoes won. They ranked the highest on the satiety index, while croissants ranked the lowest.
Moreover, they contain potato protease inhibitor II (PI2). This compound derived from potatoes increases the levels of cholecystokinin (CCK), which aids with decreasing your food intake.
This is pertinent to people who are overweight or suffer from obesity. Foods that are filling can control cravings and appetite, therefore help with weight loss.
Potatoes are Versatile and Affordable
The good news is that potatoes are not a luxury food. White potatoes have an affordable price, can be found year-round, and their shelf life goes up to a couple of months under the right conditions.
Spuds are a staple food in many cuisines around the world. They can be boiled, grilled, baked, steamed, and fried. They can also be incorporated into so many dishes, from appetizers to desserts.
However, if you plan on deep frying your potatoes or making a fancy dish that contains a lot of fat, carbs, or both, you got yourself a calorie bomb. Watch out how you prepare potatoes if you want to maintain that waistline.
Are French Fries And Chips Healthy?
Fries and chips are the reason why potatoes have a bad reputation. French fries are a staple of the fast-food industry, while potato chips are processed.
In 2020 the food industry is marketing a healthier version of chips that are made from more nutritious foods (lentil chips, quinoa chips, bean chips, etc.).
Another trend is to opt for those that have BAKED written on the bag. This is supposed to make the chips healthier because they have less fat.
However, regardless if they're low-sodium, low-fat, baked, kettle-cooked, or avocado chips, they are still processed, hence unhealthy.
Potato chips, plain nutrition facts per 100g:
- Calories: 559
- Carbs: 52 g
- Fat: 38.4 g, out of which saturated fat: 9.5 g
- Protein: 4.5 g
French Fries, fast-food nutrition facts per 100g:
- Calories: 319
- Carbs: 37.5 g
- Fat: 17.1 g, out of which saturated fat: 4 g
- Protein: 3.8 g
The nutrient profile of homemade French fries and chips is different than those mentioned above.
Homemade dishes are usually healthier because of the quality of the ingredients used. And, even if you cannot afford expensive oils or organic ingredients, you can control the quantities.
Eating French fries outside gives you little to no control over what you are consuming. You cannot be 100 percent sure whether the potatoes are fresh, frozen, cooked in the same batch of oil over and over again, or deep-fried in unhealthy oil.
They are also high in sodium. High amounts of salt in a human's diet increases a variety of health risks.
Try to avoid the consumption of such foods as often as you can. If possible, eliminate them from your diet altogether.
BEST Tips For Storing Potatoes
- Pay attention to storing temperature (opt for cool places). Potatoes last about three weeks at room temperature, and a couple of months at 45 to 50 F (6-10 C). They need to be stored at a slightly higher temperature than that of the refrigerator. If you have an unheated basement, cellar, or shed, you can use it to store white potatoes for a couple of months.
- Keep spuds away from light. When they are exposed to direct lighting, they form green patches. When this happens, they start producing chlorophyll (a green pigment )and glycoalkaloids. The green color is an indication of an increase in glycoalkaloids, which are toxic compounds and can cause unpleasant side effects, such as digestive issues and neurological effects.
- Avoid storing potatoes in the refrigerator or freezer. If they are kept at fridge temperature, the starch transforms into sugar, giving them a sweeter taste. And, if they are stored uncooked in the freezer, the water content increases, making them useless after defrosting. Nonetheless, you can store cooked potatoes in the fridge for up to four days, and you can store them in the freezer for up to one year.
- Make sure the storage unit is well ventilated. Store potatoes in a paper bag, open bowl, or place on a shelf specially designed for storing vegetables. This helps with airflow, and it prevents spoilage.
- Do not wash the produce before storing it. You might be tempted to do that to get rid of all that dirt, but it will lead to an increased risk of bacteria growth. The extra moisture will also reduce their shelf life.
- Do not store them with other foods. You might find it easy to place potatoes, onions, garlic, etc. in the same storage unit or close by. However, many vegetables, including onions, release high amounts of ethylene when they ripen. This promotes sprouting and spoilage in potatoes. Also, avoid keeping them close to bananas or apples.
- Place peeled potatoes in water to last throughout that day. If you leave them outside, they will begin to change their color because of air exposure. To avoid preparing potatoes with a gray or brown tint, place them whole or cut, in a bowl of water, and then refrigerate them. Use them that same day, so they don't lose their taste and texture.
Did You Know…
- Potatoes are used to make vodka, potcheen, and other similar alcoholic drinks.
- Potatoes are 80% water.
- The informal name for potato is spud. A spud is actually the tool used to dig up the potatoes.
- The state of Idaho is also known as The Potato State. Idaho potatoes grow in rich volcanic soil. The growing conditions are what separates them from other white potatoes.
on May 1, 2020