Potatoes are everywhere, from mashed potatoes to scalloped cheesy potato and fast-food fried varieties. They are America’s most loved vegetable. Are potatoes good for your health, however?
There are many misconceptions about the health benefits of potatoes. Adrienne Posner, a UC Davis Health intern in dietetics, breaks down the nutritional facts of potatoes and why you might want to include them in your next meal.
Are potatoes vegetables?
Yes. Yes. Potatoes are starchy vegetables because they are stem tubers. These vegetables have more starch than others, as their name suggests. This is not a bad thing. This means the vegetable has more calories, but less fiber.
Starch is a carbohydrate that the body converts into glucose for energy. Starchy foods can be a great food option if you need to increase calories or to complete a meal.
Many cultures offer side dishes of potatoes, pasta, and rice with their meals. These options add calories and provide a satisfying feeling for hungry families. You can also find other starchy vegetables like:
- Green peas
- Winter squashes, such as butternut and acorn
- Sweet potatoes and yams
- Lentils and beans
- Potatoes are good for your health and nutrition
Potatoes are not only rich in starch but also contain vitamins, minerals and fiber. They are high in vitamin C, an antioxidant. Because of their high vitamin C, potatoes were an important food source that prevented scurvy. Potassium, an electrolyte that aids in the functioning of our nervous system, heart and muscles, is another important nutrient found in potatoes. Fiber is an important nutrient for good digestion.
Different types of potatoes
There are many varieties of potatoes. There are many varieties of potatoes. Some of the most common varieties found in grocery stores are:
- Fingerling potatoes: Small, stubby, finger-shaped potatoes
- Russet potatoes are large potatoes with dark brown skin. They have white flesh.
- Sweet potatoes: Large sweet potatoes with bright orange flesh.
- Red and white potatoes: There are many sizes and shapes of red and white potatoes.
- Purple potatoes: Oval-shaped potatoes that have purple flesh and a purplish black skin
What makes potatoes unhealthy
Potatoes are generally considered less healthy when they are stuffed with cheese, sourcream, or bacon. Potatoes can be comforting and satisfying when you’re mindful of the portion sizes and toppings.
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Why eat potatoes?
Potatoes are not only affordable, but they also have many health benefits. They are rich in nutrients, energy, fiber, vitamins and minerals. To maximize the nutritional benefits, include different types of potatoes in your diet.
Healthy potato recipes
These healthy potato recipes are from Good Food Is Good Medicine and can be enjoyed at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
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Chipotle mashed sweet potatoes
Grilled chicken served with fondue, roasted vegetable potato corn cake, fondue and green beans
Roasted sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts