White potatoes are starchy vegetables – and they’re healthy too! | #24CarrotDiet | potato nutrition | potato starch | vitamins and minerals | satiety index | weight loss | blood sugar |

Healthy Living Help: Potato Nutritional Info & Why It’s Not a Bad Idea to Eat Them

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.

Potato nutritional info: Should you avoid this starchy vegetable? | #24CarrotDiet
Should you avoid 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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Potato nutrition facts: vitamins and minerals, fiber, resistant starch benefits | #24CarrotDiet | potato starch | starchy vegetables | satiety index | weight loss
Potatoes are not the nutritional demon we might think they are
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Original content © 2018 Kyla Matton Osborne, aka #RubyWriter
Public domain images by Pixabay users [users]

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66 thoughts on “Healthy Living Help: Potato Nutritional Info & Why It’s Not a Bad Idea to Eat Them”

    1. I've heard from so many people who love potatoes. I think we all know instinctively that this is a good, healthy food. That's why so many of us throughout history have called potatoes a staple or a comfort food. I feel the same way that you do: potatoes are healthy in moderation.

      As starches go, they are healthier than the white rice or white pasta that so often replace them on a dinner plate. So it's a good idea to keep eating them regularly. It's also a good idea to think of peas and corn, and different kinds of squash, as starchy foods. We can use these foods as the starch on our dinner plates and eat them each in turn. This will boost variety and help to improve our overall nutrition :)
  1. My favorite potatoes are purple potatoes because of the increased amount of antioxidants. Very nutritious and tasty.
    1. I haven't had the chance to try purple potatoes yet, though they are on my list whenever they become available here. If you enjoy them, you might be interested in purple carrots. They are very high in antioxidants, especially the darker purple carrots that look black.
  2. I love potatoes but they are listed as foods to avoid on the Eat for Your Type Diet I was following. The does not stop me, though, from having an occasional baked potato, especially if I'm sick. It's a real comfort food for me, and very filling. I think you just gave me permission to eat more potatoes. But doesn't cooking kill the Vitamin C content in vegetables?
    1. Cooking does sometimes lower the vitamin C content in foods, as it does in white potatoes. But they still have a significant amount left after cooking. In some foods, like the sweet potato, cooking actually boosts the vitamin C content significantly. I'm not sure what causes this, but it is worth looking into when you're deciding how to prepare a favourite vegetable :)

      One way to minimize the water-soluble vitamin loss is to cook vegetables for shorter periods of time and to expose them to less light and water. If you boil or steam vegetables, use the cooking liquid to make broth or add it to gravy or pasta sauce. This way, you can recoup some of the lost vitamins.
    1. My mother is the same way, Jasmine. She eats mostly mashed or boiled potatoes, but I remember what a treat it always was for her when we had baked potatoes for supper. Incidentally, my mother is a very slim woman. She has eaten potatoes regularly all her life, and never had an issue with being overweight.
  3. Such a great read, especially for a carb and potato lover like myself lol! I think a lot of people forget the benefits to them!
    1. I think you're right, Adriana. People lump potatoes in with white bread, white rice, and pasta. They've been told for so long to avoid all white foods, that they assume potatoes are just kind of empty calories. They don't realize how nutritious a white potato is.
  4. Oh wow! I absolutely love potatoes but try to limit my intake because I thought they were pretty much a starchy mess of non-nutrition (is that even a word? Non-nutrition? Probably not haha). This post has made me feel a WHOLE lot better about my love for the potato. ;) x
    1. I had the same impression, not long ago! And I've also seen some people claim the same about corn (also not true!) I'm not sure I'd recommend eating either one every single night, but in moderation they are both healthy foods.
    1. I think that's a very healthy approach, Valerie! And remember that not all carbs are bad for you. Many vegetables are very low in calories, fats, sodium, etc. and are composed in large part of water and carbs. They contain a ton of vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients. And often, the type of carbohydrate in them is fiber or resistant starch, which actually help to control blood sugar and appetite, and tend to promote weight loss. So don't give up on the carbs! A lot of them are super healthy for you :)
  5. I need to eat more potatoes. I love them and don't care what they have or don't have. I just tend to make white rice more often. Potatoes might become a staple side in this house now.
    1. I would definitely recommend eating potatoes more often than white rice, Nikki. In 100 g of rice, there are about twice the calories of potatoes. And the white rice is low in fibre, vitamins & minerals. Brown rice is significantly better than white, so if you can switch to brown at least some of the time that will improve your nutrient intake and lower the calories :)
  6. I think potatoes have gotten a bad rap and your article proves it! Not only do they contain potassium and fiber, they make you feel full. It seems to me that's a benefit in and of itself. If you feel full, you aren't as likely to snack as much. I didn't realize they contain something that is beneficial to gut bacteria. As someone who suffers from IBS, I could really use that!
  7. I love love carbs and always wonder if potato is a good one or bad one. So I eat not too much of it. But I really love sweet potatoes. In EVERYTHING! We normally have mashed potatoes or we bake it with some herbs and it is delicious!
    1. I quite agree! I love my pasta too. Of course, we're trying to eat it in moderation and to replace some of it with other foods like yummy spaghetti squash. But I do believe there is a place for starchy foods like pasta and potatoes in a healthy diet. Thanks for stopping by, Keating :)
  8. I was just having this same debate with a friend the other night who was convinced potatoes are the worst thing you can eat, thank you for de-vilifying them! I think one of the reasons potatoes got such a bad rap for being "fattening" was because a lot of people will deep fry them or add a ton of extras on them, like bacon, sour cream, and sugar based condiments like ketchup. Great post and I'll be sure to forward this to my friend!
    1. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on this, Bee! I quite agree that the vilification of the potato is due in large part to the cooking method and toppings, rather than actual potato nutritional info.
  9. I eat potatoes for the taste, and yes I knew there was some sort of nutritional benefits but I didn't know it was this much. I enjoy my potatoes to be honest. Prepared anyhow, mashed, baked, fried (try to keep it to a limit tho), thanks for the informative share.
  10. I’ve loved potatoes for as long as I remember! Nowadays I do try to eat them in moderation and try to substitute sweet potatoes or cauliflower sometimes. Thanks for the info!
  11. I love sweet potatoes more than white ones but I love the skins! Whether boiled or baked, I take all the extra skins that the others don't want! LOL
  12. Wow this article is very helpful. I knew that potatoes have many vitamins but i didn't know all these things. I was worried that my son eats to many potatoes, but now i'm fine with that.
    1. I wouldn't recommend for anyone to eat an excess of potatoes. But as long as he's eating a variety of different foods and you aren't seeing any health concerns, it should be fine for your son to eat potatoes on a fairly regular basis. Be sure that he respects portion sizes, and encourage him to choose the more healthy cooking methods and toppings (if any.) You might also want to explore some other starchy vegetables, as well as potato substitutes like cauliflower. It's good to introduce our kids to many different food options :)
  13. Very encouraging to read this! I've been reading books that have villainized white potatoes, which, as a dietitian, I know the problem isn't the potato itself but how we prepare them and how much we eat of them at one time. I love adding potatoes to soups to add bulk and help with satiety. And you're so right - leave the skins on! That's where a lot of the nutrients are. Great post, Kyla!
    1. Thanks so much, Caitlin! I'm glad to hear that, as a dietitian, you approve of eating potatoes in moderation. I love them in soups, as well. I tend to eat potatoes more in soups than by themselves :)
  14. This was very enlightening. My husband and I often disagree about how healthy potatoes are. I almost always avoid them and use sweet potatoes instead. He thinks they're good for you (even in the form of french fries!). I'll have to start incorporating more more (non-fried) potatoes in my meals since there is a nutritional benefit. My husband will thank you ;)
    1. I'm glad the information was helpful! And tell your husband that even if the fries aren't so healthy, they are satisfying if only eaten occasionally. Of course, then they are even better if served in poutine :P
    1. I do think you're right about everything in moderation, Michelle! But there are a good many people who have been cutting out potatoes because they believe them to be fattening. There is at least one study I read about, that apparently showed if people are eating potatoes daily they may gain about 1/2 lb every 4 years. I haven't read the study itself and don't really know exactly how they figured this out. It seems like a very small amount of weight, though. Especially if you only eat potatoes once in a while.
  15. Wow, this info abt potatoes is so new to me. I always avoid them and they are a rare treat in our house, but it seems i can go back to them. Thank you for the write up
  16. Absolutely love making different recipes involving potatoes for my family. Also, if you have a finger blister, sticking your find into a raw potato is a great cure for it!

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