Poh-TAY-Toe, I say Poh-TAH-Toe
The biggest controversy over potatoes is not you pronounce it, but if they make you fat. Yes and no. “Yes” if you eat too many of them made the wrong way or loaded with the sugar-laden high-calorie toppings, but “no” if you cook and prepare them correctly! Potatoes contain no fat, no cholesterol and no sodium. They are nutritious and low calorie but the way you prepare your potatoes makes a big difference in their nutrient content. So, let’s go over types of potatoes, their nutritional values, and the best way to cook them.
“DROP THE CARBS DROP THE STARCHES!”
Whenever someone gives advice on a better diet, they say to drop a
ll your starches aka white rice, white potatoes, white bread etc. But starches alone are not the problem. What makes a starch fattening is if you eat too much and if it’s processed.
Processed potato products such as have more calories, more sodium, and bad fat than whole potatoes, plus they have less nutrition. Processed potatoes come in the form of frozen hash browns, tater tots, and the good ole frozen packaged French Fries.
Both fast food fries or home-made, fries dramatically increase calories and bad fat. Plus, many fast food places add sugar to the oil. It’s healthier to bake or boil.
SKIN IN THE GAME: Don’t peel the peel. The skin is higher in nutrients than the potato flesh, it protects the potato against nutritional loss during the cooking process and it has minerals and vitamins.
Potato skin Raw & by itself:
• Carbohydrates 4.7g
• Calories: 22
• Fat: 0 grams
• Protein: 1 gram
• Fiber: 1 gram
• Sodium: 3.8 milligrams.
Entire Potato - Skin & Flesh: One medium (6.1 ounces) Russet baked potato including the skin has: *RDI=Recommended Daily Intake
• Calories: 168
• Fat: 0 grams
• Protein: 5 grams
• Carbs: 37 grams
• Fiber: 4 grams
• Sodium: 24 milligrams
• Vitamin C: 37% of the RDI
• Vitamin B6: 31% of the RDI
• Potassium: 27% of the RDI
• Manganese: 20% of the RDI
As you can see potatoes have lots of good Vitamin C, Potassium and Manganese! Red potatoes have fewer calories, carbs and fiber than Russet potatoes, but they have more vitamin K and Niacin.
Preparation & Embellishments
• Boil – By boiling potatoes in water you lose some lots of the vitamins. You may want to add a little meat or chicken broth, salt, and bring the water to a boil before you put in the potatoes- this saves vitamin C content by cutting the boiling time.
• Fry - 75% of vitamin C of a potato is lost while frying. You’re better off baking, steaming or bar-b-que-roasting.
• Bake - Baking potatoes minimizes loss of nutrients. They can be baked whole and baking cut up potatoes is a healthier alternative to French fries.
• Mashed – they are usually boiled (see above) and be careful with the amount of cream butter and toppings. You may try plain Greek yogurt or avocado.
• Steam - This is a great way to keep the vitamins in, but over-steaming can leave your potato a bit mushy, and bland. You risk over-salting or over buttering it for taste. So, watch and poke the potato when steaming to control the firmness, and season just a skosh.
• Microwave: Microwaving your potatoes shortens the time they’re cooked, thus reducing the loss of vitamins. But you can dry it out if overcooking it, so put the potatoes in a little broth or water and test the time on a small potato first. Microwaves differ in power and time.
Just because the peel or skin has a lot of the potato’s nutrients, you don’t want use potato skins as carriers for loads of cheddar cheese, jack cheese or sour cream! These are loaded with bad fats calories. The same goes for full baked potatoes, or casseroles—it’s best to lightly add butter and any other ingredient bit by bit. Savor the potato. Use it to sop up juice and sauce from other foods such as beans, meat dripping, lentils etc.… even a fried or poached egg.
SWEET Potato, RED potato, PURPLE potato – WHITE! Sweet Potatoes pack lots of Vitamin A – nearly 700% of the RDI while other types of potatoes don’t. Sweet Potatoes also have lots of potassium – though Red Potatoes have more. Sweet potatoes have about twice the Vitamin C than Russet or Red Potatoes and they have the highest amount of fiber of all the potatoes. As far as carbs go, sweet potatoes are comparable to all of them. Purple Potatoes are full of antioxidants like most blue and purple foods, (think blueberries!). They restrict the accumulation of dangerous free radicals and hinder the deposit of free radicals into your system. This fights cancers and chronic diseases.
Potatoes are your Buds! - Other Health Benefits This starchy vegetable has been shown to:
• Improve Digestion
• Reduce Cholesterol Levels
• Boost Heart Health
• Protect from Polyps
• Prevent Cancer
• Manage diabetes
• Strengthen the immune system
• Reduce signs of aging
• Protect your Skin
• Increase Circulation
• Reduce Blood Pressure
• Maintain fluid balance
• reduce insomnia
• aid in eye care & promote better eyesight
• Reduce Inflammation
• Treat Scurvy
• keeps your cognitive activity high
• Fights heart disease
• Treat Kidney stones. (Potatoes raise the level of uric acid which causes Kidney stones BUT, they are also rich magnesium, which suppresses the accumulation of calcium (calcification) or the deposition of calcium in the kidney and other tissues so in that way potatoes help in the treatment of renal calculi/kidney stones and one of my favorites:
• Treat Diarrhea. Potatoes are an excellent component of an energy-rich diet for those suffering from diarrhea since they are easy to digest and contain mild roughage. However, eating too many potatoes can cause diarrhea due to the excessive ingestion of starch.
Potatoes Contain Antioxidants
Antioxidants are substances that prevent the formation of harmful free radicals, which are reactive atoms that can accumulate in your body and contribute to chronic disease. Studies show that antioxidants can prevent certain types of chronic disease, such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Potatoes are a good source of antioxidants, including specific types, such as flavonoids, carotenoids and phenolic acids.
One study compared the antioxidant activities of white and colored potatoes and found that colored potatoes were the most effective at neutralizing free radicals. Another test-tube study found that the antioxidants in potatoes may reduce the growth of certain types of cancer, including colon cancer and liver cancer.
To note: most available research is limited to test-tube studies. More research is needed to determine how the antioxidants in potatoes affect the growth, reduction or prevention of chronic diseases in humans.
And lastly, potatoes are rich in Iron and Calcium. Hey Ronnie! So, what’s the bottom line?
My answer: Potatoes contain a good amount of fiber, vitamins including Vitamin C and B6, minerals, carbohydrates, fiber, potassium, and manganese. Their nutrient contents vary depending on the type of potato and cooking method so they can be enjoyed in weight loss or staying at a good body weight, as long you eat cook and prepare them in a healthy way and remember with all foods – my mantra is always “Eat-Don’t Overeat.” And Bon Appetit!