How Healthy Are Potatoes?
February is National Potato Month! There are many different types of potatoes and countless ways to eat these nutrient-packed vegetables! Potatoes are available year round from your grocer, and can be a part of a healthy meal plan!
One potato, about the size of your fist, has only 110 calories and is loaded with important nutrients like potassium, fiber, vitamin C, and complex carbohydrates. They are naturally fat free, cholesterol free, and contain no sodium.
Potatoes are among the top sources of potassium. They have more potassium per serving than any other vegetable or fruit, including bananas, oranges, or mushrooms. Potassium is essential for normal function of muscles (like your heart), maintaining the body’s electrolyte balance and maintaining the body’s water balance.
One medium potato with the skin provides 2 grams of fiber, which is 8% of the daily recommendation. Dietary fiber has been shown to have numerous health benefits, including lowering the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity, and increasing feelings of fullness.
Carbohydrates are a major source of energy for the body. There are two types: simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates are found in many types of foods, from sweets to produce and milk. Complex carbohydrates also are known as starches. Grains, beans, and some vegetables and fruits provide complex carbohydrates. Potatoes contain both carbohydrate types.
Ways to Cook 5 Typical Types of Potatoes
- White Potatoes: May be baked, boiled or fried.
- Russet Potatoes: Also called old potatoes or baking potatoes, Russet potatoes have a rough brown skin, an oblong shape and many eyes. They have a low amount of moisture and high starch content, which make them perfect for baking.
- Red-Skinned Potatoes: Used for boiling, roasting or frying.
- Yellow Potatoes: These potatoes have a skin color that ranges from a buttery yellow to golden. They are mostly used for boiling and have a moist texture making them good for mashed potatoes. Yellow potatoes are a relatively new variety and are considered all-purpose, meeting all your baking needs.
- Blue-Purple Potatoes: This type ranges in color from bluish-purple to purple-black. Their purple or blue flesh makes an excellent accent to any dish. They are usually small with a dense texture good for baking.
- Butter Potatoes: Gourmet potatoes, such as butter potatoes, are new to many grocery stores (also called Butter Gold or Butter Red Potatoes). They have a rich, creamy flavor and smooth texture making them perfect for mashed potatoes or baked potatoes that need fewer toppings.
New to many grocery stores are gourmet potatoes, like Butter Potatoes (can be found as Butter Gold or Butter Red Potatoes). They have a rich, creamy flavor and smooth texture making them perfect for mashed potatoes or baked potatoes that need fewer toppings.
Potato Prep Ideas
Many people use potatoes as a side dish: mashed, scalloped, fried, salad or baked. Try a potato bar for dinner using a baked potato as your main course loaded with a variety of toppings such as ham or chili, broccoli and cheese, herbs, chives, taco meat and salsa, beans, jalapeños, onions, mushrooms or low-fat sour cream. It is an easy way to make half your plate vegetables for a healthy meal.
How to Store Potatoes
Store potatoes in a cool, humid (but not wet), dark place with good ventilation. Don’t wash potatoes before storing; it speeds up the development of decay.
Jennifer Egeland, MS, RD, LD
Dietitian/Natural Food Buyer
Hen House Markets