Potatoes Are Healthy — Health Benefits and Nutrition of Potatoes
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Somewhere along the lines, sweet potatoes became the darlings of the health food world while all other potatoes sank to ugly stepsister status. “They’re starchy and carb-heavy with few vitamins or minerals!” proclaimed potato naysayers. But that’s not exactly true, and here’s why.
What are the health benefits of potatoes?
Spoiler alert! Non-sweet potatoes aren’t just big lumps of empty cals. “Potatoes are actually filled with more potassium than bananas, and they also contain fiber, vitamin C, vitamin B6, plus a bit of iron and calcium,” says Elizabeth Shaw, MS, RDN, founder of ShawSimpleSwaps.com. Potassium is an electrolyte that supports nerve and muscle function and can help offset some of sodium’s effects on blood pressure. Vitamin B6 is critical for brain development and helps keep the nervous and immune systems functioning properly. Iron is crucial for healthy blood and calcium is a building block of strong bones. And you probably already know that fiber fills you up and keeps things running smoothly on the digestive front, while vitamin C supports a healthy immune system and promotes youthful looking skin.
If you’re still not convinced, here’s one more reason to embrace potatoes: “They contain phytonutrients like flavonoids that function as powerful antioxidants,” says Shaw. And that goes for all types of “regular” potatoes — white, russet, Yukon gold, red, purple, you get the gist. It’s starting to look like that #PotatoGoodness hashtag was right on the spuddy money!
Are sweet potatoes healthier than other kinds of potatoes?
Sweet potatoes are a bit more nutrient dense than other potatoes (translation: they have a slightly higher vitamin and mineral content) and come in a bit lower on the calorie and carb scale, but the margin is slim, so don’t banish regular spuds for good.
Are potatoes good for weight loss?
Let’s face it: Many of our favorite ways to consume potatoes aren’t the healthiest. French fries are dripping with heart- and waist-busting trans fats, and baked potatoes are loaded with deliciously fatty toppings like sour cream, cheese, and bacon bits. But there are easy tweaks that allow you to enjoy your tater faves without sacrificing on taste or piling on the pounds. Swap in Greek yogurt for sour cream (bonus: extra muscle-building protein), turkey bacon for regular, and load your baked potato up with flavorful calorie freebies such as chives, scallions, and spicy chili peppers or hot sauce. “You can also scoop out some of the flesh and mix with cauliflower, broccoli, or mushrooms for an extra dose of veggies,” suggests Shaw. Craving fries? Bake them in skinny sticks for a handcut feel, or roast off wedges with lots of fresh garlic and herbs for a steakcut vibe. And keep the skin on whenever possible — this is where many of the nutrients live.
The bottom line: Potatoes shouldn’t be fried and should always be eaten in moderation. Portion control is key to keep starches and calories down.