Is it healthy to eat potatoes?

Are potatoes unhealthy for you? 

Will potatoes make you fat? 

Are potatoes bad to eat on a diet?

Are potatoes good for weight loss?

What are the health benefits of eating potatoes?

These are the most common questions you all ask about potatoes.  There is so much mixed information about the humble spud, I thought you might like some answers.

warm fingerling potato salad

 There are health benefits to eating potatoes...

Potatoes have gotten a bad rap over the years as people have moved towards lower carb diets and sworn off the white fluffy stuff.  The truth is potatoes are a vegetable and they provide nutrients that our body needs.  Potatoes are a good source of B vitamins like Folate as well as Vitamin C and Potassium.  If you eat the skin it is also a good source of fiber.   One medium potato has 150 calories, a lot more than a cup of broccoli, but it is filling and satisfying as part of a full meal.

Crispiest Classic French Fries

The real problem with potatoes...

The problem with potatoes is really about their preparation.  The biggest culprits are French fries and potato chips, both of which are usually deep fried.  When fried their peels are usually removed and they absorb so much oil they basically become fat sponges.  Even when baked they are often a magnet for fat-laden toppings, like butter and sour cream.  If you can change the way you eat potatoes they can and should be part of a healthy diet.

potato-skins

Zippy Potato Skins - use yogurt and add broccoli

How to get the most health benefits from potatoes...

  • Try topping a potato with low fat or non-fat yogurt or sour cream
  • Stuff with broccoli and a little sprinkling of cheese
  • Use skim milk when making mashed potatoes
  • Make potato chips or fries in the oven with cooking spray 
  • Keep the skin on

What about sweet potatoes?

Most people consider them healthy, even though they have the same amount of calories as a white potato.  Sweet potatoes have a little bit more fiber and are rich in Vitamin A, but its main claim to health fame is that it has a low glycemic index, meaning that it should make you feel full longer.  That means you get more bang for your buck with the same amount of food and calories, we call that nutrient dense.  Find out all the health benefits of sweet potatoes plus get some healthy sweet potato recipes here.  

As to those little purple potatoes, sometimes called Peruvian potatoes.  These colorful guys have been seen to lower blood pressure and they contain anti-cancer antioxidants, but their nutritional makeup of calories and fiber is more akin to the white potato.

The lowdown: All potatoes can and should be part of a healthy diet.   The best thing you can do is be sure to include all kinds of potatoes, variety is the spice of life and beware of the toppings bar.