Potatoes usually get a bad rap when it comes to eating healthy. Many of us might already have learned to view potatoes as a fattening choice for any meal. While it’s true that potatoes contain a lot of carbs and starch, this root vegetable might actually be a very healthy and beneficial option.
Many people also see potatoes as comfort food, perhaps only to be consumed on our ‘cheat’ days. In reality, though, it’s the way in which we prepare the potato and not the vegetable itself. Think about it; if we deep-fry potatoes, mash them and add lots of butter and cream, or use them for hash browns, they’re obviously not going to be healthy choices. Eating such dishes might be a lot of fun, and preparing them is usually quite easy too.
Health Benefits of Consuming Potatoes
1. Gives us Nutrients
There are several different types of potatoes all over the world. Most of these are high in nutrients, though the exact nutrient combination might vary.
For instance, a single medium russet baked potato will provide 168 calories, 37 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fubar, 24 milligrams of sodium, etc. It also has a decent percentage of the RDI of Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, manganese, potassium, and so on. Keep in mind that this calculation includes the skin as well. Red potatoes will have more vitamin K than russet potatoes, while the calories, fiber, and carbs will have a lower count.
The method of preparing potatoes will also affect certain aspects of their nutrient content. For instance, frying this vegetable will obviously add more calories to it. Peeling off the skin will do away with a lot of the minerals and fiber, so think carefully before you decide upon a recipe. It’s also best to pair potato servings with healthy and natural options like avocados, fresh veggies, etc.
2. A Source of Antioxidants
Potatoes also have their fair share of antioxidants, which have the ability to prevent free radicals from forming in our bodies. Free radicals are reactive atoms that can build up inside us and lead to chronic diseases, even cancer.
Studies have shown how antioxidants might be able to prevent several serious health issues. These include heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and so on. Potatoes also contain specific kinds of antioxidants such as carotenoids, phenolic acids, and flavonoids.
Research shows how colored potatoes might be the most effective option for attacking free radicals and neutralizing them. It was also found that these antioxidants could reduce cancer growth if it’s already present. These findings include cancers of the colon and the liver.
Of course, most of the research we’re talking about here is just based on test-tube studies. We need more detailed studies to establish the presence and effectiveness of antioxidants in several vegetables, especially potatoes.
3. A Satisfying Effect
When we’re trying to lose weight or just curb unhealthy cravings, we usually look for filling food options. You’ll find that potatoes are usually one of the most filling items around, along with being easily available at any grocery store, farmer’s market, etc.
There’s even been a study that made a satiety index regarding several common foods. They did this by giving the participants certain goods and asking them how satisfied they felt after consuming their meal. It was found that boiled potatoes were the most satisfying and filling for most folks. They were a whopping 7 times more satisfying than options like croissants.
Even when we look at other staples like rice and pasta, potatoes were found to have a high satiety rating. Consuming potatoes in a healthy manner is hence likely to result in an overall decrease in calorie intake.
Since potato skins have a lot of fiber, we should consider including them as well. There are several healthy ways to cook potato skins, which pass very slowly through our digestive system. Consuming these will help us feel full for a very long time, so we’re unlikely to eat or snack on anything else for that period.
4. Provides Resistant Starch
Resistant starch is the kind that doesn’t get digested within our small intestine. Instead, this starch passes right on through and feeds the useful ‘good’ bacteria inside our gut from the large intestine. This leads to better digestion, a longer period of feeling full, control over blood sugar levels, and better insulin sensitivity.
If we’re looking to get more resistant starch in our diet, potatoes are probably the most logical choice. In fact, if we cook potatoes, chill them, and then consume them (after warming them up again), we might get the highest possible amount of resistant starch from each serving.
5. A Pretty Versatile Vegetable
Potatoes are a pretty versatile vegetable. They’re great for baking or roasting, or you can add them to a stew or soup. But you don’t have to confine potatoes to just the dinner table. They can be part of your breakfast or lunch, too!
6. Naturally Gluten-free
Potatoes are a delicious and nutritious food that can be enjoyed by people with gluten intolerance. You don’t have to miss out on this starchy vegetable if you’re sensitive to gluten because many types of potatoes are naturally gluten-free, such as Russet Potatoes. These common baking potatoes are great for mashing or baking with their fluffy texture. They’re also tasty when sliced and fried for a scrumptious potato chip substitute.
Downsides of Consuming Potatoes
1. Possible Weight Gain
On the other hand, we can’t really discuss potatoes without acknowledging the fact that they can cause weight gain. One study followed several thousand participants over the course of five years. Its findings drew a correlation between eating potatoes and an increased waist circumference, especially for women.
Further research has also revealed that eating potatoes, and potato chips (the processed kind) in general might be the biggest factors in weight gain. Each daily serving of potatoes could lead to a 1.3 pound, while potato chips might contribute 1.7 pounds on average.
While this doesn’t mean that we should completely cut potatoes out of our duet, it does mean that we have to be careful about how often we consume this vegetable. The method of preparation and the frequency of consumption also matter. There have also been several other studies on the link between potatoes and weight gain, but the results found no such association.
It’s still not really recommended that we consume potatoes too frequently. Fortunately, there are several options that might give us a similar culinary experience, such as cauliflower or sweet potatoes.
2. Bloating, Gas, and Diarrhea
Consuming large amounts of potatoes can also cause bloating, gas and diarrhea because they produce excess flatulence-causing substances when the body breaks them down.
3. Hyperglycemia and Diabetes
Potatoes may cause hyperglycemia and diabetes when consumed in large quantities because they contain so much sugar. This is especially true when they are fried or prepared with sugar or corn syrup in the preparation process, which adds unnecessary calories as well.
4. May Cause Diverticulosis
Potatoes are also high in carbohydrates, which are broken down into sugar and enter the bloodstream quickly. Too much sugar in the bloodstream over time may increase your risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Consuming large amounts of carbohydrates without eating enough fiber may also increase your risk of developing an intestinal disorder known as diverticulosis, which causes pouches to form on the intestinal wall.
It’s apparent that potatoes have lots of health benefits as long as we consume and prepare them in a proper manner. Too much oil, butter, cream, and salt will probably make any kind of food unhealthy, so it’s not really fair to dismiss potatoes from a balanced diet.
Plus, having a ready stock of potatoes at home has several other advantages as well. Along with being a delicious addition to meals, potatoes also have certain skin benefits. Add these to your skincare and beauty routine for a more natural way to get your complexion glowing. Again, staying away from fried potatoes and other unhealthy options is also suggested if we want to maintain clear, smooth skin.