Potato: The boon to health

Potato: The boon to health

Today, potatoes have become synonymous with unhealthy food. But in reality, they are a goldmine of health benefits. Read on to know about potato nutrition and how you can reap the healthy benefits that the humble potato contributes to.

Introduction

Potatoes are one of the staple foods in most Indian households. Why? Because they are not only relatively cheaper and easier to cook, but also delicious and nutritious in nature. This loved vegetable is available all year round, everywhere.

Potatoes come in many sizes and textures, regardless of which, they all have a good nutrition profile. Before we discuss potato health benefits further, let’s find out the types of potatoes mother nature has to offer.

Types of potatoes:

There are many potato types suitable for cooking. The below list contains some of the most popular varieties of potatoes that are easily found around the world:

  1. Red potato: These are small potatoes with smooth, red skin. Of all the potato varieties that are available in the market, this one imparts the creamiest texture to the meals it is added to. 
  2. Russet potato: These are among the most common potato varieties. They are oval in shape and are mainly consumed in their baked or roasted form.
  3. Purple potato: As the name suggests, they have purple skin and lavender coloured flesh. They have a nutty flavour and can be used for grilling and baking.
  4. White potato: These potatoes have a thin white skin. Along with russet potatoes, white potatoes can be mashed and incorporated into curries. They can also be added to salads or can be steamed or fried.
  5. Fingerling potato: They are long, finger shaped potatoes. Their skin colour might vary as per their geological location. They taste the best when pan fried or roasted.
  6. Yellow potato: These are large sized potatoes and have a hint of sweetness in them. They are very buttery in flavour too and go excellently well when grilled or roasted.
  7. Petite potato: They appear like the other common potatoes that are found in the market, except that they are small in size and carry a distinct flavour. These are usually used to prepare dum aloo gravies.

Potato nutrition

Potatoes, when eaten as a lone vegetable, do not add many calories to your meals, thus imparting no harm to your health. Additionally, Potatoes' nutritional value comprises plenty of vitamin C, vitamin B6, and minerals, making them a great source of multivitamins.

Below is the nutritional breakdown of 100g of a normal sized potato:

Energy 292kcal
Carbohydrate 14.89g
Protein 1.54
Total fat 0.23g
Total fibre 1.71g
Magnesium 24.07mg
Potassium 541 mg
Calcium 9.52mg
Iron 0.57mg
Vitamin B6 0.10mg
Folate 15.5mg
Vitamin C 23.15mg

* IFCT, 2017

Potato calories fall way lower on the calorie scale than many other foods consumed regularly. However, it is best to eat potatoes in moderation as they are rich in carbohydrates and may lead to overall calorie build up. The carbohydrates in potatoes are mainly starch, and the rate of digestion of this starch increases with cooking. The energy provided by the potato can be instantly used as compared to other cereals like rice, wheat, etc., making it a vital part of an athlete or sports player’s diet. The different varieties of potatoes have a very similar nutrition profile and do not vary much in terms of macro and micro nutrients.

Health benefits of potatoes:

Including vegetables like potatoes in your daily diet is extremely beneficial to your health. These potato health benefits are due to the treasure trove of nutrients and minerals it contains: 

  1. Good bone health: Potatoes(skin included) have plenty of magnesium, which is a mineral that helps maintain the structure of your bones and strengthen them with time. This is one of the most prominent potato benefits. 
  2. Helps maintain blood pressure: Having required amounts of potassium in diet helps maintain blood pressure. Potassium, along with calcium and magnesium present in potatoes, may help prevent abnormal blood pressure values.
  3. Good heart health: Potatoes contain significant amounts of fibre, potassium, vitamin C and B6, which may support the functioning of your heart.
  4. Anti-inflammatory property: One of the major potato benefits is its anti-inflammatory properties. Choline present in the potatoes may help in effective muscle movement, promotes early brain development and also helps in transmission of nerve impulses. Vitamin C also acts like an antioxidant, thus helping prevent any damage done by free radicals.
  5. Digestion: The ability of potatoes to aid in digestion because of their high fibre content is their main health benefit. Additionally, potatoes are simple to digest and may help in regularising bowel movements due to their high carbohydrate content and skin that is rich in fibre.

Potatoes aren't typically thought to be high in nutrients, they are versatile and have some unprecedented health and nutrition benefits. Although French fries and potato skins are high in fat and calories, the potato itself is low in fat, cholesterol, and sodium.

Potatoes, when prepared correctly, can make a delicious, filling, and healthy dish. Instead of deep-frying the potatoes, roast or bake them and top it with some corn, vegetables, or homemade salsa. You can even try out some delicious yet healthy recipes like stuffed potatoes, potato khichdi, dahi potato curry and relish the healthy benefits of potatoes.

Reference:

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