Potatoes have an unfair reputation as a food that’s generally not so healthy for you.
In all honesty, though, this is probably based on some of the ways we prefer to prepare them…
You’ve got French fries, which are high in fat (cooked in oil) and salt — not to mention the levels of acrylamide that occur when cooking at high frying temperatures.
Next, we have mashed potatoes, that get their calories from the butter or sour cream they’re made with. And then, of course, there’s the potato chip — which truly has no redeeming qualities.
But, in defense of the lowly potato, there are plenty of ways it can play a part in a healthy diet.
And sweet potatoes (not the same as yams) are nutritional giants in their own right.
Let’s set the record straight on these two vegetables right now.
5 good reasons to eat more potatoes
1. Potatoes are loaded with vitamins and minerals. A banana, well-known as a source of potassium, offers 9 percent of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of this essential mineral. By comparison, a potato gives you 26 percent.
In addition, a medium baked potato contains 3.8gr of fiber and the following percentages of other important nutrients:
- Vitamin C – 28% RDA
- Vitamin B6 – 27% RDA
- Manganese – 19% RDA
- Magnesium – 12% RDA
- Phosphorous – 12% RDA
- Niacin – 12% RDA
- Folate – 12% RDA
2. Potatoes are a good source of antioxidants. The flavonoids and phenolic acids in potatoes neutralize free radicals, molecules that play a part in diseases like inflammatory joint disease, diabetes and cancer.
3. Potatoes may improve blood sugar control and aid digestion. Potatoes contain a special type of starch known as resistant starch, which isn’t fully absorbed by the body. It goes to the large intestine and feeds the beneficial bacteria in your gut. The cooking and cooling process forms more resistant starch than simply cooking them. Think potato salad with a healthy swap: ripe avocado for mayonnaise. Cooled potatoes are also a delicious addition to a Greek salad.
4. Potatoes are naturally gluten-free. If you have a gluten allergy, potatoes can take the place of bread and other foods. They’re nutritious, and just as filling as bread.
5. Potatoes can help pump up your muscles. Researchers from McMaster University in Canada discovered that the protein in potatoes could help women maintain muscle mass, especially if you follow a plant-based diet.
Sweet potatoes: not just for Thanksgiving
Like white potatoes, sweet potatoes are also good for gut health. But they also have some health benefits all their own.
To start with, their orange color points to their rich supply of carotenoids, also found in colorful foods like carrots and bell peppers.
Carotenoids are well-known for promoting healthy eyes, and more recently have been found to support heart health.
Here are a few more reasons to eat sweet potatoes all year round:
1. Sweet potatoes are exploding with Vitamin A. One cup of baked sweet potato, including the skin, packs an unbelievable 769% RDA of Vitamin A.
In addition, it offers the following nutritional values:
- Vitamin C – 65% RDA
- Manganese – 50% RDA
- Vitamin B6 – 29% RDA
- Potassium – 27% RDA
- Pantothenic acid – 18% RDA
- Copper – 16% RDA
- Niacin – 15% RDA
2. Sweet potatoes may have cancer-fighting properties. In test-tube studies, the anthocyanins in orange and purple sweet potatoes have been found to slow the growth of bladder, colon, stomach and breast cancer cells.
3. Sweet potatoes support healthy vision. Beta-carotene, which gives sweet potatoes their bright orange color, converts to vitamin A in the body and is used to form light-detecting receptors inside the eye.
4. Sweet potatoes may boost brain function. Animal studies have found that the anthocyanins in purple sweet potatoes can protect the brain from inflammation, and has been shown to improve memory.
5. Sweet potatoes may strengthen the immune system. Vitamin A is critical to immune health and, eating foods like sweet potatoes that are rich in anthocyanins is one good way to ensure you have an adequate supply of this vitamin.
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Science of potato — Technology.org
7 Health and Nutrition Benefits of Potatoes — Healthline
6 Surprising Health Benefits of Sweet Potatoes — Healthline