7 Nutrition Facts About Potatoes Many Consumers Don’t Know

From U.S. New & World Reports
Featured in the 2/2/16 issue of Potato Bytes, published by NPPGA

  1. The entire potato is nutritious.  Eat the whole thing, skin and all, if possible. One part of the potato is not more nutritious than the other – both have their own valuable nutrients.
  2. It only has 110 calories.  Sure, if you add butter, sour cream and bacon, that number rises. If you throw them in the deep fryer – ditto. (Sorry, but sweet potato fries still count as fries.) But if you prepare and top your potato in a healthier way, it’s not really accurate to call it a “fattening” food. Serving size also counts. A half cup of mashed potatoes is a whole lot different than a cup and a half. Get the message?
  3. It contains 2 grams of fiber.  Let’s face it: Most people are not eating enough fiber in their diets. Therefore, 2 grams of the stuff is nothing to sneeze at. Fiber helps with satiety, may lower blood cholesterol and helps alleviate constipation.
  4. It provides 45 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin C.  Believe it or not, that’s more vitamin C than a sweet potato or a medium-sized tomato. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps to strengthen our immune system and may promote healthy skin.
  5. It’s a good source of vitamin B6.  A potato provides 10 percent of the daily recommended value of vitamin B6, which plays an important role in converting food into energy and helps the body metabolize fats and proteins.
  6. It provides 620 milligrams of potassium.  That’s actually more than a banana, which most people think of as the food with the most potassium. Potassium helps to maintain normal blood pressure and, surprisingly, this is one nutrient that many people’s diets fall short of.
  7. It provides 6 percent of the recommended daily value of iron.  Iron is crucial for transporting oxygen throughout our body. Without adequate amounts of it, you may easily find yourself feeling tired and fatigued.

So now you have the nutrition scoop, but how should you eat potatoes in order to keep their calories in check? Sure, I would love to tell you to eat French fries daily – especially since they are definitely one of my favorite foods. (I usually have them once a week.) But the truth is, there are so many more nutritious was to enjoy them. For example:

Baked (or microwaved). There’s nothing like a simple baked potato, at least in my mind. Instead of opting for the usual high-calorie toppings, try something new. Mustard, salsa, basically any variety of hummus (black bean is my favorite), low-fat Greek plain yogurt or cottage cheese are all healthy options. Oh, and an egg is also delicious on top of a potato.

Mashed. I am not saying I never make mashed potatoes with butter, but I do try to be conservative with the amount and use nonfat milk instead of whole. Sometimes, I add Parmesan cheese (a little goes a long way) or garlic (originally boiled with the potatoes so it’s soft) or both and completely skip the butter altogether. Another option is to use chicken broth with a touch of olive oil instead of the traditional butter and milk combo.

Roasted. This is a delicious option that really keeps the calories in check. I like to use new (or small) potatoes, which I quarter, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and rosemary. Then, in the oven they go! It’s so easy.

Broiled (or grilled). This version comes out the closest to French fries for me. I first microwave the potato (usually an Idaho) until it’s almost 100 percent done. Then, I slice it into 1/4-inch pieces (think of a thick potato chip) and place them on tin foil. I spray the slices on both sides with olive oil, salt and pepper and place the tray in the broiler. Finally, I brown each side until they become slightly crisp, and check them frequently to prevent burning.

Honestly, there are so many options for making a healthier potato – even more than I just listed. All you need to do is Google it!