The potato is controversial; even research has stated many pros and cons of the vegetable. For example, French fries, the popular potato dish loved by many, is one of the unhealthiest, most processed foods you can eat. The Harvard School of Public Health has said this method of frying the potato leads to weight gain and diabetes. But overall, it has been decided that if properly prepared, the potato can be an excellent addition to your diet.
Since the 1950s, processed potatoes have become the favorite way to consume this vegetable, in the form of French fries, chips or hash browns. According to Victoria Jarzabkowski, nutritionist at the University of Texas, potatoes are not necessarily bad for you. If cooked the right way, without heaps of butter and cream, they can even be good for you!
10. Why Are Potatoes Healthy?
Potatoes are high in nutrition, they have no cholesterol, no fats and are high in fiber. Yes, even though they have 26 carbs and are considered high on the glycemic index, research shows they are a good food to include in your diet.
Unless you’re a diabetic, it is recommended to eat a normal amount to receive their benefits. They are high in vitamin C, B6, and potassium, and many phytonutrients, such as carotenoids, flavonoids, quercetin and alpha lipoic acid (ALA), are especially high in colorful potatoes.
9. Eating Potatoes Helps Decrease Blood Pressure
Treating high blood pressure requires potassium to help with vasodilation, or the widening of blood vessels. Potassium, calcium and magnesium are all minerals in the potato that have been found to decrease blood pressure naturally.
8. Increases Bone Health
Iron, phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, potassium and zinc are all needed to maintain and build your bone structure and strength. Zinc and iron play crucial roles in production of collagen, the protein that holds our bones tendons and ligaments together. All of these minerals are important for preventing osteoporosis.
7. High Fiber Content Helps Decrease Cholesterol
One of the largest benefits of potatoes is their high fiber content. This fiber helps the body clear cholesterol from the blood vessels. It also helps with digestion due to the high fiber, especially if you eat the skins, and it can help keep you regular.
6. Can Increase Your Athletic Performance
The sodium and potassium in potatoes peels can restore your electrolyte balance when you are working out due to mineral losses from sweating. These minerals are necessary for optimum body function, and not having enough during exercise can result in muscle cramps.Related: 8 Signs That Osteoporosis May Be Ravaging Your Bones
5. Potatoes Can Help You Lose Weight
Nathan Pritkin, from the Pritkin Longevity Center, said over 30 years ago that “ounce for ounce, potatoes are one of the most filling and low-calorie foods we can eat”. They are very satisfying and increase satiety, making you feel fuller longer, which is great for those who need to lose weight. It’s best to use the whole potato by baking it and filling it with only low-calorie toppings like salsa, horseradish or yogurt.
4. Potatoes Come in a Rainbow of Colors
Potatoes come in different colors, like yellow, orange, blue and purple. The more color, the higher the antioxidant compounds like carotenoids, flavonoids, quercetin and vitamin A. These colorful pigments save your cells from oxidative damage. All potatoes are rich in complex carbohydrates, which are the body’s fuel source. Some of the most long-lived people from the Blue Zone, the Okinawans, get more than 50% of their calories from eating purple potatoes.
3. Potatoes Can Reduce Inflammation and Pain
According to research, potatoes are very effective in reducing inflammation in the digestive system. They are soft, easily digested and have lots of vitamin C. They can also help arthritis and gout sufferers.Related: 10 of the Top Vegetables to Detox Your Body and Fight Inflammation
2. Calms Depression and Is Critical for Brain Chemicals
The vitamin B6 in potatoes is critical to maintaining neurological health, as it assists with the production of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine chemicals, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
These chemicals help decrease depression, stress and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
1. The Healthy Way to Cook Potatoes to Get the Benefits
Eating your potato as a whole unprocessed food by baking, steaming or boiling it is much healthier. Cooking with the skins on and not adding all the fat and creamy toppings makes them a beneficial food for your body. If boiling, make sure you drink the water or use it in soup, since the minerals are now in the water.Related: Lower Your Blood Pressure with These 19 Healthy Foods