The funny thing about potatoes is, since we all grew up with them, we think we know all about ‘em. In fact, there is a lot of misinformation about potatoes; sometimes people think of them as a fattening starch, when in reality, they’re a healthy, fresh vegetable.
More and more, studies are showing they are a perfect fit for a healthy diet, assuming you go easy on the butter and sour cream.
So-called “low-carb diets” love to malign potatoes. In fact, research shows potatoes are a great tool in weight loss. They are low in calories and are full of fiber, potassium and vitamin C.
A Brief History
The potato goes back in time—way back to native tribes in the Andes almost 10,000 years ago. And today, Peru is the potato capital of the world, with amazing diversity in potatoes. There you’ll find them in all shapes, sizes and colors imaginable. The earliest farming of potatoes, however, began in about 1400 BC in the same region. Thanks to their hardiness, potatoes were a great crop in the mountainous regions of Peru, where wheat and corn could not thrive.
In about 1570, the Spanish brought potatoes back to Europe. Sailors loved them for their protection again scurvy (thanks to their high vitamin C content) and back in their homeland, they took off like wild-fire and become a low-cost staple for people everywhere.
Today, potatoes are part of group that makes up the third largest source of carbohydrates in the world. They’re grown in all 50 U.S. states and in about 125 countries worldwide.
Not only are potatoes America’s favorite vegetable, they’re also America’s favorite side dish, beating out rice and pasta. In 2010, 80% of American’s put potatoes on the table almost 4 times every two weeks.
- Potatoes were the first vegetable grown in space
- Potatoes are the best-selling side dish in American restaurants
- Potatoes have one of the first commodity groups to develop and use an FDA-approved nutrition label
- Only 19% of Americans rate potatoes as being “great” for gluten-free. Seriously? Potatoes are TOTALLY gluten-free.
- Less than 3% of Americans meet the FDA guidelines for potassium intake. Quick, eat a potato!
- Research suggests that diets rich in potassium and low in sodium reduce the risk of hypertension and stroke. Helloooooo potato!
- Research also indicates that diets high in potassium-rich fruits and vegetables may help maintain lean body mass and bone
- In addition to vitamins and minerals, potatoes also have an assortment of phytochemicals with antioxidant potential, most notably carotenoids and anthocyanins
- Potatoes have shown to help keep you feeling full, longer. Great!
Potatoes are a fresh vegetable. Seriously! So unless you go overboard on the butter and sour cream, they deserve a place on your plate. You should know that one medium potato (5.3 oz) with the skin:
- Is naturally fat-free and sodium-free
- Has only 110 calories
- Contains 45% of the daily value for vitamin C
- Is packed with as much or more potassium (620 mg) than either bananas, spinach, or broccoli
- Provides 10 percent of the daily value of B6; and trace amounts of thiamin, riboflavin, folate, magnesium, phosphorous, iron, and zinc