Potato is a versatile vegetable and is an essential addition to various dishes. In addition, it is an integral part of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian diets. People put potatoes in salads, snack fillings, finger foods etc. However, there are misconceptions about potatoes, questioning if it is a nutritional food source. Potatoes are a rich source of fibre that can help control cholesterol and blood sugar levels. The fibre found in potatoes is called “resistant starch”, which contains both soluble and insoluble fibres, beneficial for a healthy gut.
It is a vegetable that acts as an all-rounder with some fantastic health benefits. We automatically think about french fries and other fast-food items when we think of potatoes. However, they can also be mashed, boiled, baked and cooked. Cooking methods for potatoes can highly affect their nutritional value.
Types of Potatoes
Many different varieties of potatoes are available in the market, but they are primarily of 3 types:
1. Starchy Potato
This type of potato is high in starch content and low in moisture. It is ideal for baking, boiling and frying. This variety is unsuitable for making salads as they are easily mushed and do not hold their shape.
Some variations in this category are:
- Jewel Yam
- Japanese Sweet Potato
- Hannah Sweet Potato
2. Waxy Potato
This type of potato is prevalent as it is pretty low in starch content and has creamy, firm and moist flesh. These potatoes can hold up their shape even after being cooked and are suitable for casseroles, salads, and roasting.
Some variations in this category are:
- Rose Finn Apple
- Melody Potato
- Russian Banana
- Red Thumb
- Ratte Potato
3. All-Purpose Potato
Potatoes that fall under this category have medium starch content, making them a mix of waxy and starchy potatoes.
These are multi-faceted, as the name suggests and can be used in various dishes using different types of cooking methods. For example, Yukon Gold and white potato is a variety of all-purpose potato popularly used to make mashed potatoes.
Some variations under this category are:
- White and Yellow Potato
- Red Gold
- Purple Majesty
- Norland Red
- Yukon Gold
Nutritional Value of Potatoes
100 grams of potatoes contain:
- Calories: 97 kCal
- Fats: 0.1 g
- Carbohydrates: 22.6 g
- Protein: 1.6 g
- Fibre: 1.7 g
8 Surprising Health Benefits of Potatoes
1. Lower Blood Pressure
High blood pressure can lead to unwanted complications. High blood pressure can also put the heart, kidney, and brain health at risk. In addition, due to low potassium levels in the body, the body retains sodium which can cause high blood pressure.
According to a study, potatoes are a rich source of potassium; and can help in balancing the sodium content inside the body, reducing the risk of strokes and heart attacks.
Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, barley and rye. People who are allergic to gluten or intolerant can develop severe symptoms from gluten consumption. Some signs can be stomach pain, diarrhoea, constipation, bloating, skin rashes.
Potatoes are naturally gluten-free and at the same time provide energy and other essential nutrients like magnesium, potassium, calcium.
3. Antioxidant Storehouse
Antioxidants are substances that prevent the formation of free radicals. Free radicals can cause oxidative damage to the body cells. Antioxidants can help reverse some of the damage caused by free radicals and prevent further damage.
Potatoes are rich in antioxidants, specifically: flavonoids, carotenoids, and phenolic acids. Some studies have shown that antioxidants can have a beneficial effect on diabetic patients.
4. Assists in Weight Gain
So many foods assist in weight loss, but potatoes are a great source of calories and proteins and help people gain weight. A study proved that eating potatoes helped women increase weight over some time.
5. Enhance Immunity
Having a sound immune system can help you fight many diseases and allergies. Vitamin C, B6 and potassium are essential to creating a healthy immune system.
A study shows that consuming potatoes decreases white blood cells such as leukocytes and lymphocytes in the blood. They are also an excellent source of vitamin C, potassium, and vitamin B6, which help in improving immunity in the body.
6. Alleviate Menstrual Symptoms
Having potato juice can help relieve PMS symptoms, according to a study. The high carbohydrate levels in potato juice help to elevate the levels of tryptophan, an amino acid that boosts the level of serotonin in the body. Moreover, serotonin is also responsible for improving mood and reducing anxiety levels.
7. Promotes Sleep
Potatoes are a rich source of potassium. They have up to 396mg of potassium per 100g of servings. Potassium channels in the body help regulate sleep cycles. So having a potassium-rich diet can help you regulate sleep cycle and promote a healthy sleeping schedule. According to research, potatoes and other vegetables also have sleep-promoting effects.
8. Improves Digestive Health
Potatoes are rich in resistant starch, which act as food for the good bacteria in the gut. These bacterias help in digesting the food in a much more effective way. They are also a good source of dietary fibre, which helps to provide bulk for a healthy bowel movement. A mix of these properties helps to improve digestive health and prevents constipation, inflammation and other gastrointestinal problems.
Healthy Potato Recipes
Potatoes are incredibly versatile. And potatoes are used in all sorts of dishes and complement several vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. Some healthy ways to include potatoes in your diet are:
1. Mashed Potatoes
- Servings: 6
- Preparation time: 25 min
- Potatoes: 907 g (peeled and cut into cubes)
- Water: 473 ml
- Chicken or vegetable broth: 236 ml
- Garlic cloves: 6
- Buttermilk: 118 ml
- Green onions: 32 g (thinly sliced)
- Salt to taste
- Pepper to taste
- Butter (optional)
- Take a large saucepan and combine the potatoes, water, broth and garlic.
- Bring it to a boil; reduce the heat; cover, and let them simmer.
- Cook for at least 12-15mins.
- In another saucepan, add the buttermilk and heat until warm.
- Drain the potatoes and garlic.
- Mash the potatoes with the buttermilk.
- Stir in the onions, salt, and pepper.
- If desired, serve the potatoes with melted butter and additional green onions.
2. Oven Roasted Potatoes
- Servings- 4
- Preparation Time- 35 mins
- Olive oil: 1 tbsp
- Garlic: 1 tbsp (minced)
- Fresh Basil: 1 tbsp (chopped)
- Rosemary: 1 tbsp (chopped)
- Fresh Parsley: 1 tbsp (chopped)
- Red Pepper Flakes: ½ tsp
- Salt: (per taste)
- Potatoes: 4 Large (peeled and cubed)
- Preheat the oven to 245 degrees Celsius.
- Combine oil, garlic, basil, rosemary, parsley, red pepper flakes, and salt in a large bowl.
- Toss in potatoes until evenly coated.
- Place potatoes in a single layer on a roasting pan or baking sheet.
- Roast in the oven, turning occasionally, until potatoes are brown on all sides for 20 to 30 minutes.
- Serve warm as a side
Possible Side Effects of Consuming Too Many Potatoes
If you are on a diet and trying to reduce weight, having too many potato dishes can hinder that process. Potatoes are rich in calories and fats and may aid in increasing weight. However, if you want to include potatoes in your weight loss diet, you may consult a dietitian for healthy recipes that won’t contribute to much weight gain.
Potatoes in processed food form such as fries, chips, and burger patties contain more calories than fresh potatoes. Consuming too much of these processed and fried foods can cause other gastric disorders apart from weight gain.
Fried potato dishes are also not good for your skin and can cause breakouts.
Potatoes contain complex carbohydrates and a high glycaemic index. Complex carbohydrates, when digested, are turned into glucose (blood sugar). Glucose is essential for many bodily functions. However, consuming too many potatoes can increase blood sugar levels and cause a spike. Therefore, if you have diabetes, they should always be taken in moderation and consult your doctor before diet modifications.
Potatoes are top-rated food items, and they can be easily included in the diet. They have many nutrients and essential vitamins. However, it is crucial to be mindful of the cooking techniques used to cook those dishes to increase or decrease their nutritional value.
Potatoes can have many health benefits because of their nutritional nature but are not suitable for people with diabetes. Therefore, it is always advisable to consult a professional before making significant dietary changes.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. Is it ok to eat potatoes every day?
A. Yes, it is safe to consume potatoes every day as long as you cook them without much salt or saturated fats. One medium-size potato can be part of a healthy diet. It doesn’t increase cardiometabolic risk and the chances of having diabetes and heart disease.
Q. Why are potatoes bad?
A. Potatoes can cause weight gain as they have a high glycemic index value. That makes them bad for people with diabetes. It can also spike blood sugar. Though fat-free, they are also starchy carbohydrates with little protein.
Q. What are the disadvantages of potatoes?
A. Potatoes can cause weight gain. So if you are trying to manage your weight, you should avoid processed and fried potato dishes. They also have a high glycemic index and may negatively impact your blood sugar levels.
Q. Are potatoes nutritious?
A. Yes, potatoes are highly nutritious vegetables. They are full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. As a result, they provide various health benefits like improved blood sugar control, reduced heart disease risk, and higher immunity.
Q. What are the benefits of boiled potatoes?
A. Boiled potatoes are naturally rich in potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Being a good source of fibre, they are also suitable for managing your weight. In addition, they keep cholesterol and blood sugar levels in check.
Q. What’s better for you, potato or rice?
A. Rice has a higher protein content than potatoes, and potatoes contain more carbs than rice. Carbohydrates can increase blood sugar and contribute to extra calories. So, it is safe to say that rice is a much healthier option.
Q. Who should avoid potatoes?
A. People who have diabetes should avoid potatoes due to their high glycaemic index value. It converts carbohydrates into blood sugar which can cause a blood sugar spike. People on low-carb or low-glycemic diets should also refrain from its use.
Q. Is rubbing raw potatoes on your face good?
A. Rubbing raw potatoes on your face is good because they have antioxidants that show many anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, they can help reduce skin irritation and acne bumps over some time.
Q. Can we apply potatoes to our face daily?
A. Yes, you can use raw potato on your face daily. You can use it as a natural cleanser. The antioxidants present in it help to reduce redness and skin irritation. With potatoes, you do not need any fancy ingredients or face packs.
Q. Can a baby eat potatoes every day?
A. Yes, babies can eat potatoes daily. They have many health benefits, and you can give them in mashed, boiled or cooked form. Potatoes provide them with the required energy and various nutrients, making them a healthy food choice for your baby.
Q. Do potatoes make you fat?
A. Yes, potatoes have high calories, and carbs and specific cooking methods increase their calorie value, resulting in weight gain. But if you have them in moderation, they will not make you fat as they are complex carbohydrates.
Q. Are potatoes good for weight loss?
A. Sweet potatoes can be an excellent addition to the diet if you are trying to lose weight. Their nutritional profile makes them a much healthier choice. They have high fibre content, which keeps you full for an extended period, eliminating binge eating and consuming extra calories.
Q. Is it ok to eat potatoes for dinner?
A. Yes, having potatoes for dinner doesn’t do any particular harm to your body. You can consume them at night easily. The potassium levels in potatoes also promote a healthy sleep cycle. Just ensure that potatoes are steamed or baked.
Q. Does boiling potatoes remove nutrients?
A. Boiling potatoes can reduce the number of minerals as some minerals are heat sensitive and lose their nutritional value. However, you can preserve nutrients by baking them or boiling them with the skin and peeling them later.
Q. Are potatoes bad for your heart?
A. No, potatoes are not bad for your heart. The only thing is that they should not be deep-fried or loaded with unhealthy toppings. Potassium found in potatoes helps lower blood pressure. Furthermore, fibre also reduces the risk of heart disease.
Q. Do potatoes increase cholesterol?
A. Yes. Potatoes are simple carbohydrates and affect blood sugar. That contributes to elevated triglyceride levels, a type of lipid present in the blood. Therefore, this can have an impact on the overall cholesterol levels.
Q. Is sweet potato good for the brain?
A. Yes. Sweet potatoes are rich in antioxidants and other nutrients. In addition, they show many anti-inflammatory effects that keep the cells healthy and increase their life cycle. This property makes it excellent for the brain.