Potatoes are more than comfort food; they are in fact full of nutrients and have many health benefits. We mostly think of potatoes as a fattening food but according to studies, we have learned that you can lose weight eating them. It may surprise you to learn that they are a superfood.
“Potatoes have been cultivated for thousands of years, and we thought traditional crops were pretty well understood, but this surprising finding shows that even the most familiar of foods might conceal a hoard of health-promoting chemicals”. Food scientist Dr Fred Mellon
Time to learn about all those potato health benefits from actually helping with weight loss, to lowering blood pressure and much more.
Potato Health Benefits
1. Fiber Helps with Weight Loss
In a study, 90 overweight men and women added 5 to 7 servings of potatoes to their diet per week. The results were that the men and women lost a small amount of weight.
The fiber in a diet is an important factor in weight loss because it makes one feel full, thus making one feel full longer and consuming fewer calories.
2. Lowers the Risk of Heart Disease and Reduces High Blood Pressure
Eating potatoes with their skins, prepared without oil once or twice every day can reduce high blood pressure.
This was proven by research with 18 individuals who were overweight with high blood pressure; they ate 6 to 8 purple potatoes with skins twice a day for a month. They all took antihypertensive high blood pressure drugs and had a decrease in blood pressure. None of them gained weight!
3. Reduces Inflammation
The Washington State University did a study in 2011 that found potatoes to reduce inflammation which can be the cause of many major diseases.
Learn more about Inflammation: The Slow Silent Killer.
4. May Help Prevent Colon Cancer
Eating purple potatoes may reduce the risk of colon cancer according to a study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.
5. Helpful for Digestion and Keeping Regular
Potatoes have high fiber content; especially the skin.
These health benefits don’t work if they are greasy french fries or potato chips.
A baked potato would work but not if it has added butter, sour cream, melted cheese or bacon bits. Eating them in those ways can contribute to a number of health issues.
Potatoes have a reputation for being high in carbohydrates and low in nutrients. Most of what creates unhealthy potatoes are the frying of them or the addition of lots of butter, sour cream, bacon or cheese being heavily used.
A 5.5-ounce potato flesh has:
34 grams of carbohydrates
3 grams of protein
3 grams of sugar
2 grams of fiber
8 milligram of calcium
A 2-ounce potato skin has:
27 grams of carbs
2.5 grams of protein
less than 1 gram of sugar
4.6 grams of fiber
20 milligrams of calcium
You can see that it is important to consume the skin too as it will give you extra nutrients. The flesh of the potato also offers you nutrition so eat both.
For more information: Calories and Macronutrients
How to Pick the Best Potatoes
It is best to buy them in a bulk display and not in a plastic bag. If the bag is not perforated there can be a build-up of moisture causing them to begin to decay or sprout, which is not a good thing.
Make sure they are firm, relatively smooth, with no decay and not pre-washed. Washing them removes their coating which is protective, putting them at risk for bacteria. You’ll have to wash them before cooking anyway.
It is very important that the potatoes are not sprouting or have turned green as this is a sign that they may contain a toxic amount of glycoalkaloids. Not just an unpleasant taste, it has been found to cause symptoms such as nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness and headaches. Also, more than 20 mg of glycoalkaloid causes fatal illness. Learn more about Potato Poisoning.
The symptoms don’t usually occur until 8-12 hours after eating green or sprouted potatoes. The first time I had an experience with sprouted, peeled green potatoes was 2 hours later, I was feeling very nauseous and had intense stomach pains for a whole day.
Some small studies suggest that it is not good to eat sprouted potatoes during pregnancy. It may increase the risk of birth defects.
“Maternal consumption of sprouted potatoes during periconceptional period may increase the risks of NTDs and OFCs. Given that potato is commonly consumed around the world, improper preservation and use should be a matter of concern in respect of the potential teratogenicity.” ~ National Center for Biotechnology Information
How to Store Potatoes:
- It is best to store them in a burlap or paper bag in a dark cool dry place, even at room temperature they will sprout and dehydrate and if in sunlight they will turn green.
- Do not store in the refrigerator because the starch content will turn to sugar so they will not taste good.
- Also, don’t store potatoes close to onions, as they each emit gases that cause the spoilage of each other.
- Ripe potatoes will keep for two months when stored properly; do check them regularly and remove any that have sprouted or shriveled as they will affect the other potatoes.
- New potatoes will only last for a week.
- You can store cooked potatoes in the refrigerator for a few days.
- They do not freeze well.
Tips for eating or cooking potatoes:
First of all, do note that potatoes can be good for us but it is best not to eat lots of them daily and for sure not to eat potato chips and french fries. Also, if you are having a baked potato it is all that you put on top of it that can be fattening.
It is best not to peel them because the skin contains all the nutrients and good fiber. Simply scrub the potato under cold running water, remove eyes or bruises with a knife. To avoid the darkening that occurs when exposed to air, clean and cut just before cooking.
Potatoes react with certain metals such as iron or aluminum pots and carbon knives, causing them to discolour.
Dangers of Potatoes
- Dangers of Processed Potato Products and Acrylamides – When they are processed with fat at a high temperature, the way potato chips and French fries are, produce acrylamide. Studies have found acrylamide may cause cancer according to The National Cancer Institute. Also, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) data on acrylamide levels in foods, say that baked chips may contain way more acrylamide than regular chips! Baked potatoes or boiled ones are not a concern when it comes to acrylamide.
- Potatoes are one of the vegetables that belong to the nightshade family, which includes eggplant, tomatoes and bell peppers. If you are sensitive to nightshades, they could trigger inflammation in the body and contribute to arthritis. There are no scientific studies to confirm this, but many health professionals have made the observation that some people are sensitive to nightshade produce. It has been suggested that this sensitivity to nightshades is a unique sensitivity to solanine.
- Beta-blockers: This is a type of medication commonly prescribed for heart disease. It can cause potassium levels to increase in the blood. High-potassium foods like potatoes should be consumed in moderation when taking beta-blockers.
- Potatoes are sprayed 5 or more times throughout the growing season to protect against various pests. After harvesting, another round of spraying occurs in the packing shed to ward off the mold. Every year they show up on the Dirty Dozen list by the Environmental Working Group. Even after they are washed, pesticide residues remained, so it’s important to always buy them organic.
Delicious Potato Recipes
Delicious Healthy Vegan Potato Salad – Here is my version of Vegan Potato Salad which is creamy, filled with lots of vegetables, yummy and healthy without the chemical additives found in regular mayonnaise.
Curried Green Beans and Potatoes – Green beans with carrots and potatoes become extra special and yummy made into a simple curry.
Learn more about some of the healthiest vegetarian vegetable foods you will always want to have in your pantry or growing on your deck.
READ: Superfoods – Over 100 of the Healthiest Foods You Should Have in Your Diet and learn more about the variety of Superfoods we think you should have in your diet.