Have you ever read potato nutritional info? Most of us read the nutritional info on packages of processed foods. But we don’t often take the time to look at what’s in the fresh fruits and vegetables we eat. So I’ll bet you don’t really know what nutrients are found in potatoes – other than maybe carbs and potassium. I thought today I’d like to share some potato nutrition facts. I also want to look at whether it’s really necessary to limit potatoes in your diet.
You won’t find potato nutritional info written on their skins or posted in the grocery store. And unless the package includes some sort of health claim or nutrient reference, potato nutritional info isn’t even a required on the potato sack. Thankfully, we can look online to check nutrition claims for and against eating plain old, white potatoes.
Is There Such a Thing as a Good Potato?
Most of us grew up eating a “meat and potatoes” diet. We thought of potatoes as healthy, but also pretty much a necessity on our supper plates. Growing up, we probably ate potatoes about 20-25 days on 30. We occasionally ate pasta for supper, and a few times a month we’d replace the potatoes with rice. But other than that, it was a pretty steady diet of boiled or mashed potatoes every night.
A few years back, we started hearing that we should cut back on carbs like white rice and pasta. Not long after, experts began to expand their advice. I remember a doctor about five years ago, telling my husband to completely stop eating everything white. He was including potatoes in that advice.
We’d been hearing about starchy vegetables for a while by that point. Some people absolutely vilified corn (maize) and potatoes. I can remember reading claims that corn was just a whole lot of fat, starch, and empty calories. Other diet myths suggested that all starch was immediately converted into fat in our bodies.
Food trends over the past decade have seen baked and boiled potatoes lumped in with less healthy potato-containing foods like French fries, potato chips, and potato dishes like creamy mashed potatoes and potatoes au gratin, that include a lot of fat from cream, butter, and cheese. We are replacing white potatoes with sweet potatoes, which actually have a similar nutritional profile. We are also replacing potatoes in dishes like shepherd’s pie with a mashed cauliflower substitute.
Potato Nutritional Info
Do we really need to limit our intake of white potatoes, or maybe even replace them completely in our diet? Is there such a thing as a good potato? It turns out that potatoes are actually pretty healthy. Yes, even the white ones! Check out some potato nutritional info that will help you to make an informed decision about whether you want to include the tuber in your diet.
Potato Starch and Weight Loss
Potatoes are mostly water. A medium potato (raw) weighs about 213 grams, and almost 175 g of that is water. After water, the next component is 28.73 g of starch. I’m sure you were expecting that number to be fairly high. What you may not know is that potato starch is a form of resistant starch that feeds your gut bacteria. You can read more about that below.
Starch isn’t always included in the nutrition facts on a food label, so you may not be aware that we eat a lot of it. Starch is actually the most common carbohydrate in our diet. It’s found in two main types of foods: grains and cereal products, and starchy vegetables. These vegetables include root vegetables like parsnips and potatoes. But they also include green peas, pumpkin and winter squash, and legumes. There is also starch in nuts and seeds.
Amount of Fiber in Potatoes
You knew about the starch, but you might be surprised by the fiber content in potatoes. Dietary fiber makes up 5.1 g of a medium potato. And that amount represents 20% of your daily fibre requirement. Fiber helps to make you feel full. It also plays a role in digestion, heart health, and feeding your gut bacteria, among other things.
Do Potatoes Have Vitamin C?
Yes, actually potatoes do contain a fair bit of vitamin C! A medium potato supplies 19.4 g of vitamin C, or 32% of your daily requirement. That’s more than you’d get from a cup of watermelon.
Potatoes also contain a number of other vitamins, particularly B vitamins. A medium white potato supplies 20% of your vitamin B6, about 13% of niacin, 11% of thiamine, and 10% each of folate and pantothenic acid.
You already know that vitamin C is important for your immune system, and you probably learned at some point that a deficiency of vitamin C causes scurvy. This was the disease that killed off many of the early European settlers in Canada, until the Iroquois taught them to make a tea from white cedar to ward off the disease. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant that plays a role in heart health and may help lower your risk of cancer. With potassium, vitamin C can help to regulate blood pressure.
B vitamins help to convert food to energy in your body. They also play an important role in cell division and the formation of red blood cells, and in the health of your nervous system. Your body uses vitamin B6 to make several neurotransmitters, including dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. According to LiveScience, eating potatoes may be helpful to people coping with stress, depression, and even ADHD. Vitamin B6 is additionally known for relieving morning sickness. When I was pregnant, I had terrible morning sickness. A baked potato with a little salt was one of my favourite remedies for the nausea.
How Much Potassium is in Potatoes?
You probably know that bananas are a good source of potassium, a crucial mineral that’s important to regulate the fluid and electrolyte balance in your body. So are potatoes! Potassium plays a role in the health of your brain, organs, muscles, and bones. A medium white potato supplies 24% of your day’s potassium. Potatoes also supply magnesium, phosphorus, iron, and a modest amount of calcium, zinc, and sodium.
In addition to the vitamins and minerals in potatoes, you’ll also find carotenoids, flavonoids and the polyphenol, caffeic acid. Caffeic acid is an antioxidant that may reduce both exercise-related fatigue and inflammation. It is also associated with the prevention of premature aging, cancer. Diabetes, and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and ALS.
Boiled Potatoes and Satiety
If you’ve been avoiding potatoes because you heard that white starch is bad or they have a high glycemic index, think again. Potatoes are incredibly filling, and they can also help to regulate your blood sugar. Australian researcher Susanna Holt showed that boiled potatoes had the highest satiety rating of 38 foods surveyed. They rated a 323, or more than three times more filling than white bread, calorie for calorie. That’s more than 100 points higher than oatmeal, popcorn, peanuts, cheese, and even steak!
In order to preserve the water-soluble vitamins in potatoes, scrub them well and boil them with the skins on. Eat them, skin and all. If you want to benefit from the resistant starch, cool the potatoes before you eat them. You can eat them cold, as in potato salad. Or you can reheat them slowly at a low temperature (no higher than 130 Fahrenheit, or about 55 Celsius. Heating at low temperatures prevents the starch being converted back into a digestible form.
Potato Nutritional Info: Bottom Line
Potatoes are not the nutritional demon we might believe they are. Potatoes are low in calories and provide plenty of nutritional fiber. They are also high in vitamin C and several B vitamins, as well as potassium. A boiled potato will fill you up better than a same-calorie portion of steak!
If you are interested in weight loss, try boiling potatoes with their skin on and then cooling them before eating. This preserved both the water-soluble vitamins and the resistant starch that helps to control blood sugar and feed your gut bacteria. When you look at the truth of potato nutritional info, you’ll see that it’s still OK to eat this vegetable. Don’t avoid it!
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SWEET POTATOES VS YAMS: DO YOU KNOW THE DIFFERENCE
STARCH: WHAT IS IT & WHAT ROLE DOES IT PLAY?
ROOT TO STEM EATING: FREE FOOD FROM KITCHEN SCRAPS
Original content © 2018 Kyla Matton Osborne, aka #RubyWriter
Public domain images by Pixabay users [users]
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