Potatoes, potatoes. We love them, and we love them a lot! They often find themselves in our pantry, ready to be cooked in various ways and added in dozens of recipes. Preferred in many cooked forms, their taste and texture is specific, plus their satiety level is high, therefore they’re often seen as the staple ingredient in many recipes and a staple food in many peoples’ diet.
Potatoes are overlooked by many people when they seek healthy foods. Being the 4th biggest food crop and eaten so much (even by those who usually don’t like a lot of vegetables), potatoes have been a target of genetic engineering for years, not to mention treated with pesticides, and all of this just to secure a cheap and resistant produce that’s tasteless and nutritiously-poor. Don’t want to go deep into the matter, but lab tests have shown that conventional potatoes have 6,7 neurotoxins, 6 cancer causing substances, 7 reproductive toxins, and 12 other chemicals that could lead to hormone problems. That’s why opting for organic potatoes can help you avoid such noxious effects!
The real potato that’s grown the way Nature has intended contains the nutritives it’s suppose to contain, plus it retains its authentic taste that’s spectacular in so many ways. It can contribute to your balanced diet and help you stay healthy. Despite that, you should choose the cooking method wisely.
Organic Potato Garden
Let’s check what the health benefits of potatoes are:
First, it’s only right that we start with the nutritional profile of potatoes.
A nearly 300g serving of baked organic potatoes contains 278 calories, no fat, no cholesterol, just 4g of sugar and 30mg sodium. Furthermore, the same portion delivers 7g protein, and 63g carbohydrates. We’ll also note that 300g potatoes have 7g fiber, so potato fiber can be of help when you’re aiming at restoring your good digestion.
Potatoes are a very good vitamin source
Yep, contrary to many people’s perception. Perhaps you wouldn’t expect it, but they are rather high in vitamin C. 300g baked plain potatoes supply you with 28.7mg vitamin C, which equals to 48% of the RDV (recommended daily value). To boot, this popular food is a good vegetable source of B vitamins. A portion contains 0.2mg thiamin (13% DV), 0.1mg riboflavin (8% DV), 4.2mg niacin (21% DV), 0.9mg vitamin B6 (46% DV), 83.7mg folate (21% DV), 1.1mg pantothenic acid (11% DV). Let’s not forget the nutritional value of potatoes includes vitamin K too, with about 7% DV each 300g serving.
Moving on to potatoes’ mineral content
The same serving size of the veggie delivers: 44.8mg calcium (4% DV), 3.2mg iron (18% DV), 83.7mg magnesium (21% DV), 209mg phosphorus (21% DV), 1600mg potassium (46% DV), 1.1mg zinc (7% DV), 0.4mg copper (18% DV), 0.7mg manganese (33% DV), 1.2mcg selenium (2% DV). So basically, we can conclude that potatoes are a very good host of minerals.
The other major health-related benefits of potatoes originate from the vegetable’s phytonutrient content. Carotenoids, flavonoids and caffeic acid are usually the phytonutrients that are found present in potatoes.
Quercetin is another antioxidant found in potatoes that can help ward off free radical damage, hence inflammation and ailments.
Potatoes are a good source of collagen
This matter forms most of our connective tissue. It’s important for maintaining good skin health and skin elasticity. If you want to prevent wrinkles, you should keep your collagen levels higher.
Potatoes are a decent magnesium source
This mineral helps maintain normal nerve and muscle function. To boot, it also strengthens the bone system, keeps the heart rhythm normal and relieves stress. Furthermore, magnesium helps prevent kidney stones and uric acid build up, and it could do a lot more for your health.
Potatoes are a very good source of B vitamins
More specifically thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pyridoxine, folate, and pantothenic acid. B vitamins join forces to secure a lot of functions within our bodies, such as maintaining proper nerve, muscle and heart work, regulating the nervous and digestive systems, boosting the immune system, making new DNA cells and a lot more.
Potatoes are a decent source of dietary fiber
We wrote about this earlier. This vital constituent creates a friendly environment in the gut for probiotics to grow and thrive. Probiotics are essential for the balance of our whole health, they ensure good gastrointestinal condition and good immunity. Fiber stimulates peristaltic movement and better gastric juice excretion. Therefore it can help prevent constipation and even worse conditions like colon cancer.
There’s also a compound called Alpha-lipoic acid that occurs naturally in potatoes
Research has backed its antioxidant properties on our constitution. In Europe, it is broadly used to restore liver health. Alpha-lipoic acid protects against oxidative processes that are usually a main reason for degenerative diseases. To boot, it is thought to be more powerful than vitamins C, E and Co-Q10. It facilitates the conversion of food to glucose, and it plays a vital role in having a strong metabolism. The antioxidant has shown potential in supporting heart and eye health too. Ester Packer professor of molecular biology at UC Berkley, alpha-lipoic acid may even prove to be the most important antioxidant ever to have been discovered.
We did mention a little something about carotenoids being among the health-stimulating nutrients found present in potatoes, right? Well, perhaps this is where we should address that, because…
Potatoes are one of the best carotenoid sources
Potatoes health benefits are widely acknowledged because of carotenoids. What are carotenoids? They are beneficial antioxidants that cannot be reproduced by our bodies, therefore they must be obtained through nutrition. They help prevent cellular damage and have shown tremendous propensity for fortifying eye health and even relieving various eye conditions. Fresher studies even hinted at carotenoids being really potent supporters for cardiovascular health, as well as the male reproductive system. Carotenoids have recently been a target of research dedicated to learning more about their potential anti-tumor properties. That’s because they contain certain compounds called acetylenics, that have been known to battle tumor growth, plus they also increase the immune system’s ability to keep harmful organisms at bay. Besides all these health benefits of carotenoids, they have also proven to be useful when it comes to improve skin health. Certain carotenoids like beta-cryptoxanthin, beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and astaxanthin shield our skin, tissue and cells from environmental toxins.
Potatoes support brain health
First let’s think about what are the primary nutrients that are known to ensure proper brain functions and health. Generally, those are certain amino acids, B complex vitamins and specific hormones, fatty acids like omega 3 and omega 6 fats, glucose levels and fresh oxygen of course. Though not being a significant omega fat source, the health benefits of organic potatoes still touch this subject, as they are a very good host of most of the other nutrients. The potato is a wonderful source of carbohydrates that keep the cognitive functions straight and reduce fatigue. Potatoes also contain iron, and this mineral is responsible for transporting oxygen to the brain. The B vitamins and the rest of the minerals, especially potassium (because it increases the blood flow to the brain) have known to play their part in maintaining good brain health.
The potato fits a diet that reduces high blood pressure
High blood pressure can be caused by a number of conditions like: diabetes, poor digestion, nutrient non-balance, tension, food content, and other extraneous reasons like stress, and so on and so forth. With some of the reasons however, potatoes may be of assistance. For instance, they may relieve blood pressure caused by tension. Because potatoes are high in fiber and vitamin C in potatoes, they can help you treat indigestion. Potatoes’ fiber is great for lowering cholesterol levels and improving insulin functioning in the body, which is a predisposition for lowering blood pressure. That’s because there’s a correlation between insulin and glucose, as lower levels of insulin help keep glucose levels lower. Glucose on the other hand is connected to blood pressure, so when we do the simple math, once more potatoes turn out to be good fitting to a diet that helps you drop high blood pressure.
Please take notice that if the high blood pressure is caused by diabetes, the amount of potatoes a diabetic is allowed to consume shouldn’t exceed more than 15 to 30g a meal. There a mixed opinions and views on whether a diabetic diet should include potatoes or not, and if so, then how much. Some doctors and scientists say it’s ok to add the potato to the eating regime of a diabetic, yet in smaller amounts. Other scientists say they wouldn’t recommend this vegetable to diabetics, because its carbohydrates actually do tend to get digested at a faster rate, causing a quicker spike of the insulin which later drops faster too. Long story short, potatoes have what science calls a high glycemic load.
At last, but not least, the potassium in potatoes contributes to this health benefit, because potassium has vasodilation properties, meaning it helps blood vessels dilate.
Owing to the nutritional value of potatoes, they may help alleviate inflammation within the body
The potato is rich in vitamin C, plus it also contains vitamin B6 and potassium. Consequently, this vegetable may relieve inflammation generated in the digestive system or the intestines. To boot, potatoes are a good addition to the diet of someone with mouth ulcers.
Regarding potatoes impact on inflammation, there are people who believe that they might spike arthritis rudiments, a common concept when it comes to foods of the nightshade family such as tomato, peppers and eggplant. The good thing in favor of these foods though, is that according to the Arthritis Foundation there isn’t substantial scientific evidence to support this hypothesis. The recommendation of the foundations says that those suffering from arthritis should exclude nightshade family foods from their diet for at least half a month to notice if changes in their condition will occur, before placing the cause of their health problems in these particular foods.
Potatoes are good for skin health
Individually, vitamin C, pyridoxine, potassium, zinc, magnesium and phosphorus all have skin health-promoting benefits, but it’s even better when they’re combined. They help maintain the skin in a smooth and creamy appearance.
Improve your athletic performance with potatoes
That’s right. Potatoes can help those who work out by restoring the electrolyte balance. Potatoes’ skin contain sodium and potassium, both of which are electrolytes that get depleted when people sweat. Every time you lose electrolytes, you have to restore them, because they are vital to many body functions. Lower levels of electrolytes may cause muscle cramps, to say the least.
Potatoes are a suitable part of a diet to relieve diarrhea
Such ailments leave you dehydrated and powerless. Potatoes supply your body with constant energy, because of their carbohydrates, plus they’re easy to digest, thanks to the high content of roughage (fiber) in them. You shouldn’t eat too much of this vegetable if you have diarrhea though, because they’re a highly starchy food, and if you go too far with them, you might experience a mild laxative effect. Talk about starch, potatoes are an excellent source of resistant starch.
Hear what Dr. Mark Hyman has to say about the benefits of potatoes’ starch:
What are the best ways to cook potatoes?
You probably know by now that deep frying potatoes and smothering them in sour cream and bacon is not advisable when you want a clean bill of health. Maybe you’ll agree that baking, steaming and boiling are far better options.
Victoria Jarzabkowski who is a respected nutritionist with the Fitness Institute of Texas (at the University of Texas) says that the best way to cook a potato is to process it as minimally as possible. In that reference, baking would appear to be the most plausible choice. Baking is also the method that saves potatoes’ nutrients the most, compared to other methods.
The next healthiest way to prepare potatoes is said to be steaming, which has showed to spare higher amount of nutrients than boiling. However, that goes when you steam potatoes with their peels on. When you peel the skins, nutrient loss increases, because the water-soluble nutrients run out into the water. Those amount to vitamin C, B vitamins calcium and potassium. What’s even more, up to 80% of the vitamin C in potatoes may strain during boiling. That’s the same thing that will happen if you peel potatoes and leave them in water to soak just to stop their darkening. After all, if you do that, you can still gain some of the nutrients in potatoes if you use that same boil water for stock.
In the end, if you have the option to leave the skins on the vegetable, don’t hesitate to do it, only of course if you buy organic potatoes! Otherwise, pesticides may take their toll on your health. Untreated potato skins are actually the most nutritious part of a potato, including most of the fiber.
So you see, you can profit from the health benefits of potatoes and still enjoy this vegetable if you consume with moderation and cook smart!