Nutrition Articles

Why Potatoes Are Good for You

The Underrated Benefits of Spuds

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The poor potato. It really has gotten a bad rap.
 
A plentiful crop that's easy and inexpensive to produce, the potato has been a dietary staple across the globe for centuries. (Ireland, a country whose diet once relied almost entirely on the potato, saw one million people die of starvation when the crop failed in the mid-1800s.)
 
Potatoes are packed with dietary fiber, nutrients, and carbohydrates. Due to their high carb count, potatoes have been labeled as a no-no under low-carb diet trends like Atkins. This has knocked the skin off the potato market in the U.S.: Consumption has dropped from a high of 145 pounds per person per year in 1996 to 118 pounds per person per year in 2011.
 
But there's no need to avoid carbohydrates in moderation—especially complex carbs like the ones found in potatoes. The main problem with the humble potato is that it seems to lend itself to all kinds of adulteration: mashed with butter and cream, deep fried, stuffed with bacon and cheese—all diet-wreckers for sure.
 
But with all the potato varieties in grocery stores and at farmers markets—blue, sweet, fingerling, gold—this tuber really does belong on our plates. Make potatoes a moderate portion of your diet and prepare them healthfully, and you'll enjoy all the tasty benefits the spud has to offer.
 
What Are Potatoes?
The potato is part of the Solanaceae, or nightshade, family (as are eggplants, peppers, tomatoes, tobacco and the poisonous nightshade for which the family is named). The potato plant produces a flowering plant above ground while the edible tuber (essentially a thickened, starchy root) grows below.
 
Let's clear up the confusion about potatoes, sweet potatoes and yams: They're all members of distinct plant families, unrelated to one another. The only thing these three have in common is their growing habit: All are edible tuberous roots supported by above-ground flowering plants. Below, we'll cover the differences among them and focus on their nutritional profiles.
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About The Author

Bryn Mooth Bryn Mooth
Bryn Mooth is an independent copywriter and journalist focused on food, wellness and design; she's also a Master Gardener and enthusiastic green thumb. She shares seasonal recipes, kitchen techniques, healthy eating tips and food wisdom on her blog writes4food.com.

Member Comments

  • Great article! I wish I could eat potato skins, since they're so healthy, but they make me very sick (along with popcorn). - 3/25/2014 12:23:07 PM
  • I wish I could eat them but I seem to have an intolerance for all starches. The rule of "nothing white" when eating low-carb definitely applies for me. Potatoes, corn, white flour products, popcorn - all of it will leave me with very unpleasant gastric side effects if eaten. I love the stuff, but I've learned the hard way to stay away. - 2/25/2014 12:07:17 PM
  • BETTYCOOPER121
    I just discovered that i have been eating potatoes in an unhealthy way!! This article is real eye opener on how to eat them. Thanxx for sharing this article. I'll surely try the recipes mentioned here. - 10/28/2013 1:45:54 PM
  • I love potatoes. I will have a bake potatoe once a month. I love my sweet potatoes. I use potatoes I my string beans sometime. - 9/9/2013 2:33:48 PM
  • As with everything, moderation is the key. Right now, I'm having corn on the cob as my dinner starch. Once that is out of season, I'll go back to a nice baked potato a couple times a week. I like them enough to be able to eat them just sprinkled with a little salt and pepper. - 8/1/2013 8:46:00 AM
  • I recalled one time I found a huge potato (it was about 15 lbs if I recall correctly) at this microwave radio site I was working at (it was on farmland) and I took it home. Sadly it was the most disgusting thing I ever tasted!!
    I don't know why exactly but I had to throw it all out. - 6/21/2013 11:37:57 PM
  • I don't mind potatoes but I find its still too easy to order fries when I go out instead of a healthier alternative. I was surprised that not once was it mentioned that you can eat them raw. - 6/21/2013 11:34:01 PM
  • Interesting article. At my house, we occasionally have 1/2 baked potato with turkey gravy on it rather than butter, sour cream, etc. This makes a great side dish and it doesn't feel like it's missing anything! - 5/29/2013 11:41:58 AM
  • GIANT-STEPS
    Actually for thousands of years in Africa homo sapiens mainly survived on tubers and berries. Yes, there was the occasional game but the main source of calories was from plants. Being omnivores we were able to branch out from Africa and displaced the Neanderthals and Homo Erectus. One of the reasons people avoid potatoes is because they have a high glycemic index. The thing is that even though the carbohydrates in potatoes have a high index there reallly aren't that many of them. Glycemic load was divised to give a more accurate prediction of how a food affects blood sugar. Potatoes have high glycemic index but usual servings have a reasonable glycemic load. A huge 1 lb potato has about 400 calories. To me a big old potato is a lot more filling than the same number of calories of anything else. I enjoy my baked potatoes dry with plenty of Vegit seasoning. - 11/28/2012 7:08:14 PM
  • I find that a little goes a long way with potatoes. I used to eat 4-5 oz of potatoes, and that probably is not so good. I find I am satiated with only about two ounces, cut small. However, I find that those two ounces really help me psychologically into being satisfied that I have had a "full" meal. - 10/5/2012 9:23:33 AM
  • Excellent article! We live in NC where a lot of sweet potatoes are grown. Last week we went to the farmer and bought 3 bushels of sweet potatoes. They are so good when we get them in the fall.
    We will take some to OH and PA to share with friends and relatives and remainder will go to FL where we share with friends who love them.
    I cook up a whole big baking sheet, slip off skins, freeze, and they are ready to use when wanted. (I oil skins slightly and that makes them slip off easily. Sometimes wrap in alum foil.
    Try them with cinnamon and chopped pecans. - 10/4/2012 10:23:12 PM
  • Well for those of you who can, enjoy. Potatoes are something I will never eat again. They like most carbohydrates can make me gain huge amounts of weight by the next day. BUT of course I have digestion that has been damaged by 22 yrs of insomnia which I am working on repairing. Personally I will go for nutrient dense carbs for the rest of my life. - 10/4/2012 2:02:46 PM
  • MTORRES05
    Potatoes , love them. I have always commented that when I die , I want to go to potato heaven, They do spike my glucose , but I still eat them. Good to know that are not our enemy. - 10/4/2012 10:09:29 AM
  • As someone who has Celiac, potatoes are an important part of my diet. I am glad to hear how good for you they are because I always feel like I am indulging in something bad when I have them! - 10/4/2012 9:31:14 AM
  • AH..MUSIC TO MY EARS. ITS OK TO EAT POTATOES.I LOVE THEM. IV'E LEFT OFF EATING THEM FOR YEARS. THEY WILL BE BACK ON MY PLATE TONIGHT. - 10/4/2012 9:19:55 AM

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