Nutrition Articles

Why Potatoes Are Good for You

The Underrated Benefits of Spuds

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If you've shopped for potatoes lately, you may not be surprised to know that there are about 100 edible varieties. Here's a look at some of the more common types:
  • Idaho, russet or baking potatoes are football-shaped and can vary widely in size. These starchy potatoes have a fluffy texture when cooked and are most commonly boiled and mashed, baked, or used for chips and French fries.
  • Red, redskin or new potatoes are less starchy, with a smooth, creamy texture when cooked and a slightly sweet taste. They're commonly boiled or roasted. 
  • Yukon gold or yellow potatoes have a waxier texture and retain their shape well when cooked, making them an excellent choice for potato salad.
  • Blue or purple potatoes are both attractive and delicious; their texture is similar to a red potato, with a sweet taste. Their color signals that they're high in antioxidant flavonoids. Blue potatoes cook quickly and are ideal for roasting. 
  • Fingerling potatoes are small, thumb-shaped varieties in a range of colors. You may find heirloom types at farmers markets. Like yellow potatoes, these have a waxy texture and firmness that makes them excellent for potato salad or for roasting. 
  • Sweet potatoes are botanically different from the above potato varieties. Their color ranges from pale to deep orange to purple. Sweet potatoes have become popular in recent years not just for their terrific taste, but because they're packed with beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant, and vitamins A and C. Sweet potatoes are also lower on the glycemic index than regular potatoes, which means they don't spike blood sugar levels as much as regular potatoes. 
  • Yams and sweet potatoes are often confused, but they're botanically different. The sweet potato originated in Central America, while the yam is a longtime staple in Africa. Bright-orange yams are higher in calories, higher in vitamin C and lower in vitamin A than sweet potatoes. Most "yams" sold in the U.S. are actually sweet potatoes.

Buying and Storing
Look for potatoes that are firm, smooth and unblemished. Avoid any that show rot, sprouts (or "eyes") or green tint beneath the skin. This greening comes from exposure to light and indicates the presence of toxic compounds called glycoalkaloids. Eating green potatoes likely won't kill you (cooking at high temperatures can neutralize the glycoalkaloids), but the toxin can affect the potato's taste and cause stomach upset and diarrhea, so it's better to be safe than sorry.
Potatoes are perishable and should be stored, unwashed, in a cool, dark, well-ventilated space for up to two months. Place potatoes in a paper or cloth bag, and keep them separate from onions, as the two veggies give off a gas that can hasten decay of both. Continued ›

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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

Member Comments

  • I love potatoes. Like all things in moderation is ok. I try to do low carb because eating starch, rice, potatoes, and noodles raises my sugar reading very high. - 4/8/2016 12:48:29 PM
    I'm a major potato eater. I enjoy a small one for lunch a n d one for super. To keep them healthy I put vinegar, diced raw sweet onions, salt, and pepper on them....yumm.
    - 11/9/2015 10:05:12 PM
  • That is so good to hear. I love potatoes! When I was a kid, my Mom use to tell me I was going to turn into a potato. I will just have to cook them in a healthier way. - 5/18/2015 3:23:53 AM
  • 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
    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
    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

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