If you’re a potato lover, we have lots of good news for you. Peggy Kotsopoulos is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Culinary Consultant, and her answer to the question: “Are potatoes healthy?” is a definite “yes”. One of the most important things to remember is that potatoes are a nutritious vegetable packed with essential vitamins and minerals that help support the body, boost the immune system and improve energy levels.
Potatoes are considered a heart healthy food, too, because they are rich in potassium, vitamin C and fiber. Potassium’s role when it comes to heart health is huge: it helps trigger the squeeze of the heart that results in a heartbeat. Getting enough potassium through your diet and reducing sodium intake helps to ease and lower systolic blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke. The vitamin C and fiber help lower blood pressure and while also lowering bad cholesterol. The fiber in potatoes also helps satiate hunger and supports gut health. Finally, potatoes also contain Vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium and iron and are gluten, fat, sodium, and cholesterol free, helping to support a healthy body, boost the immune system and improve energy levels.
The color of the potato can impact antioxidants. Choose colored potatoes over white to get the best antioxidant benefits of potatoes: dark blue and red varieties contain antioxidants known as anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are powerful antioxidants that slow down the aging process—not only physically, but mentally, by keeping the brain sharp and preventing neurological decline. Plus, they boast amazing anti-cancer properties and protect against diabetes. These antioxidants are found in both the potato’s skin and flesh.
Resistant starch is a type of starch that isn’t digested in the small intestine—it resists being broken down and digested in the small intestine. Instead, these starches act more like a prebiotic fiber that feeds good bacteria in the large intestine, improving gut health. Potatoes are a good source of resistant starch, and it’s particularly increased when potatoes are cooled after they have been cooked (think potato salad). They have also been shown to help control blood sugar levels and reduce the likelihood of insulin resistance.
If you want an extra healthy potato option, stock up on creamer potatoes. They’re the smallest breed of potato, bite-sized and meant to be eaten with their naturally nutritious skins on—no cleaning or peeling required. One serving of creamer potatoes (about 5 to 6 potatoes) contains 20% of the daily recommended Intake for potassium (around 650 to 680 mg). In addition to heart health, potassium aids in muscle function and fluid balance helping to sustain a workout and daily activities. Creamer potatoes also have a natural buttery taste and creamy texture to them, so they don’t need to be loaded with sour cream, cheese or other fatty foods in order to taste delicious.
Preparation is Important
Clearly, potatoes are packed with health benefits. But remember how you’re preparing them and how much you’re consuming so as not to gain weight. So instead of eating fried potatoes or potato chips, opt for healthier ways to cook potatoes to retain their nutritional profile, like roasted, boiled, grilled, or steamed in the microwave. If you love fried potatoes, try crisping them up in an air fryer. You can also add cooked, then chilled potatoes into a green salad, sliced up on a roasted veggie sandwich, or a better-for-you potato salad for added health benefits.