Are potatoes good for you? We asked a nutritionist to explain
What we have to tell you about the nutritional value of potatoes might surprise you.
Which made us wonder: extra ingredients (cheese, butter, or heavy cream) and cooking method set aside…are potatoes good for you? To answer this question, we checked in with Peggy Kotsopolous, RHN, a Certified Health Educator that serves as the nutritionist for The Little Potato Company. If you’re a potato lover, we have some good news for you. Here are some surprising health benefits of potatoes and how you can prepare them in a healthy way.
Top Health Benefits
Potatoes can improve energy levels
One of the most important things to remember is that potatoes are nutritious vegetables packed with essential vitamins and minerals that help support a body, boost the immune system, and improve energy levels. The Vitamin C and fiber content in potatoes help lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol. Also, the fiber in potatoes helps satiate hunger and supports gut health. Potatoes also contain Vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium, and iron. They are gluten and cholesterol-free, and are low in sodium and fat.
Potassium can lower heart disease risk
Potatoes are loaded with potassium. Potassium’s role when it comes to heart health is huge: It helps trigger the bear-hug squeeze of the heart that results in a heartbeat. Getting enough potassium through your diet and reducing sodium intake helps to lower systolic blood pressure, which reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke. In addition to heart health, potassium aids in muscle function and fluid balance, which helps to sustain a workout and daily activities.
Antioxidants can slow down the aging process
The color of the potato can impact the number of antioxidants present. Studies suggest that you should choose colored potatoes over white if you’d like to fully reap the antioxidant benefits of potatoes. Dark blue and red varietals contain antioxidants known as anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are powerful antioxidants that slow down the aging process—not only physically but mentally by keeping the brain sharp and preventing neurological decline. Plus, the antioxidants found in most potatoes boast anti-cancer properties.
The highest antioxidant content is found in the potato’s skin and flesh.
Resistant starch can improve gut health
Resistant starch is a type of starch that isn’t digested in the small intestine. Instead, these starches act more like a prebiotic fiber that feeds good bacteria in the large intestine, which can improve gut health. Potatoes are a good source of resistant starch, and it’s particularly increased when potatoes are cooled after they have been cooked (think potato salad).
These starches have also been shown to help control blood sugar levels and reduce the likelihood of insulin resistance.
How to Prepare Healthy Potatoes
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American Heart Association. How potassium can help control high blood pressure.
National Institutes of Health. Potassium factsheet for health professionals.
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