What Food Group Is A Potato? [Nutritional Facts]

What Food Group Is A Potato

Walk into any restaurant, and you’ll soon see why the potato is the most consumed vegetable in the US.

The culprit? French fries, of course! The average American consumes about 50 lbs of potatoes annually.

That’s a lot of fries.

Potatoes are classified under the vegetable group, further categorized under “starchy vegetables” together with corn, green peas, and zucchini.

Potatoes are a vital source of starchy carbohydrates, in addition to fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

While most of us are used to white or russet potatoes, over 200 varieties of potatoes are available in the US.

Potatoes fall under a few categories, mainly:

  • Russet or white
  • Red
  • Yellow
  • Blue or purple
  • Fingerling
  • Petite

While the nutritional content of each type varies slightly, the differences are negligible.

All potatoes are excellent sources of carbohydrates, vitamin C, and potassium.

According to the USDA, one medium baked potato contains:

Name Amount
Calories 161
Fat 0.2 g
Protein 4.3 g
Carbohydrates 36.6 g
Fiber 3.8 g
Vitamin C 28% of recommended daily intake (RDI)
Vitamin B6 27% RDI
Potassium 26% RDI
Manganese 19% RDI
Phosphorus 12% RDI
Magnesium 12% RDI

(Source)

When comparing pound for pound, potato skins are loaded with more minerals than the rest of the potato.

Skins are rich sources of B vitamins, vitamin C, calcium, potassium, and iron.

In addition, potato skins are packed with fiber. Each skin of a medium-sized potato delivers nearly 4 grams of fiber.

Potatoes with skin on will take a little longer to cook.

Just give them a good rinse or scrub to remove any dirt and cut out any blemishes or impurities.

Fun ways of cooking potatoes with the skin on are roasting or frying.

The skin might soften and slip off when boiling potatoes, especially if the potatoes are already diced up.

What Is A Potato On The Food Pyramid?

What Is A Potato On The Food Pyramid

A food pyramid represents the optimal amount of each food group to eat a day.

It was first published in Sweden in 1974 and updated by the USDA in 1992, 2005, and 2011.

The potato was considered a starch in the older pyramids and is now classed as a starchy vegetable under the vegetable group.

More information of the food pyramid is available in this video.

The vegetable group has five sub-groups:

Dark green – Bok choy, broccoli, romaine lettuce, kale, cilantro, collard greens

Red/orange – Carrots, butternut squash, red chili peppers, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, yams

Legumes – Black, pinto, kidney, mung, navy beans, chickpeas, black-eyed peas

Starchy – Potatoes, corn, cassava, green bananas, parsnips, turnips

Other – Asparagus, avocados, artichokes, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, cucumber, eggplant

Vegetables can be eaten raw, cooked, frozen, canned, and fresh.

A few vegetables like tomatoes, avocados, eggplants, green peppers, and cucumbers are considered fruits.

Vegetables and fruits are essential to a healthy diet.

No single vegetable provides the daily recommended intake, so a range of veggies has to be consumed.

A veggie-rich diet has massive health benefits.

Maintains eye health

Most veggies are rich in beta-carotene that metabolizes into vitamin A, an essential nutrient that reduces the risk of macular degeneration and vision loss.

In addition, vitamin A boosts the immune system and reduces the risk of developing eye infections.

Supports good gut health

Vegetables are rich in dietary fiber, both soluble and insoluble.

Soluble fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like substance that can help lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels.

Soluble fiber is found in peas, beans, apples, carrots, and oats.

Insoluble fiber promotes the movement of food from the stomach, through the small intestine, and into the colon.

It increases stool bulk and contributes to healthy bowel movements.

In addition, fiber feeds the healthy gut bacteria in your colon called probiotics.

The main job of probiotics is to maintain balance in the body, supporting the immune system and chasing out any harmful bacteria trying to invade.

Any fiber that your gut bacteria can ferment is called a prebiotic.

Lowers blood pressure and prevents heart disease

Most veggies are rich in potassium, a type of electrolyte essential to maintaining a healthy heart.

A potassium-rich diet helps the kidneys move sodium out of your body, reducing blood pressure.

In addition, vitamin K is said to prevent calcium from building up in the arteries, lowering the risk of heart complications.

Control blood sugar levels

Veggies have a low glycemic index (GI), which is essential for controlling blood sugar.

The glycemic index ranks food on a scale of 1 to 100 based on the food’s effect on blood sugar levels.

The American Diabetes Association recommends at least three to five servings of veggies a day.

In addition, low GI foods make you feel fuller for longer, and might help with weight management and appetite control.

Rich in antioxidants

Veggies are rich in antioxidants that balance the free radicals in your body.

Free radicals are accumulated through smoking, ozone, air pollutants, industrial chemicals, and radiation.

When the amount of free radicals in your body surpasses what the antioxidants can balance, your body goes into a condition called oxidative stress.

Prolonged periods of oxidative stress can lead to severe illnesses like heart disease, high blood pressure, hypertension, and cancer.

Having a diet high in antioxidants will help keep the free radicals in check and maintain balance in the body.

Are Potatoes Considered A Grain?

Are Potatoes Considered A Grain

Potatoes are often linked to grains because of their high carbohydrate content.

However, potatoes are classed as a vegetable in the starchy vegetable subgroup.

Common grains include:

  • Wheat
  • Rice
  • Oats
  • Barley
  • Cereal
  • Bread
  • Pasta
  • tortillas

Grains belong to one of two subgroups; refined grains or whole grains.

Whole grains contain the complete grain kernel, including the bran, germ, and endosperm.

Brown rice, whole wheat flour, and oatmeal are whole grains.

Refined grains are milled, which removes the bran and germ that contain dietary fiber, vitamins, and iron. Some examples of refined grains are white rice, white bread, and white flour.

Are Potatoes Healthier Than Grains?

Are Potatoes Healthier Than Grains

Potatoes are not healthier than refined grains that are full of simple carbohydrates.

Whole grains and potatoes are complex carbohydrates.

Simple carbohydrates are quicker to digest and spikes blood sugar, providing the body with a short burst of energy.

In comparison, complex carbohydrates raise blood sugar levels for a prolonged period, causing an increase in slow-burning energy.

In addition, complex carbohydrates have a high GI (Glycemic Index).

The Glycemic Index is a scale from 0 to 100 that measures the effects of different foods on blood sugar levels.

Low GI foods release sugar slower, while high GIs spike quicker.

70-100: high GI

55-69: medium GI

55 and below: low GI

The GI of potatoes depends on the preparation.

A baked potato has a GI of 111, boiled potato 82, and french fries 73.

However, potatoes are an excellent source of nutrition that has also been credited with several health benefits.

  1. Rich in antioxidants

Potatoes are rich in flavonoids, carotenoids, and phenolic acids, antioxidant compounds that balance the free radicals present in the body.

Free radicals accumulate over time from exposure to smoke, radiation, industrial chemicals, and other air pollutants.

When the amount of free radicals exceeds what the antioxidants can balance, it results in oxidative stress to the body.

Prolonged and excessive oxidative stress can lead to serious diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

  1. Improves gut health

The starch and fiber in potatoes feed the good gut bacteria in the colon called probiotics.

These gut bacteria can ferment potatoes and turn them into a short-chain fatty acid called butyrate.

Butyrate has been shown to reduce inflammation, strengthen defenses of the digestive system, and reduce the risk of gastrointestinal diseases such as colorectal cancer. (Source)

  1. Helps with weight management

Potatoes are a rich food that is incredibly filling.

A specific protein present in potatoes enhances the release of cholecystokinin, a hormone that causes feelings of fullness.

  1. Gluten-free

Potatoes are suitable for people with gluten sensitivity.

Gluten is a family of proteins found in grains like barley, rye, and wheat.

Gluten sensitivity can cause stomach pain, diarrhea, bloating, constipation, and rashes.

Potatoes are naturally gluten-free and will not trigger an adverse reaction.

Which Is Healthier, Potato or Oatmeal?

Which Is Healthier, Potato or Oatmeal

Potatoes and oats have similar levels of protein, fiber, and minerals.

Potatoes have more potassium, while oats have more selenium.

In addition, oatmeal has a low GI score while potatoes have a high one.

Potatoes are also higher in fat and sodium than oatmeal but contain slightly more vitamins and minerals.

Instant oatmeal can be loaded with sugar and high in sodium.

If shopping for oatmeal, look for plain rolled or steel-cut oats that can be paired with water or plant-based milk.

Here is the nutritional content of oatmeal according to the USDA.

Name Amount
Calories 68
Fat 1.4g
Sodium 49g
Potassium 61g
Carbohydrates 12g
Fiber 1.7g
Protein 2.4g
Iron 33% RDI
Vitamin B6 15% RDI
Magnesium 6% RDI

In contrast, the nutritional content of 100g of boiled russet potatoes is:

Name Amount
Calories 125
Fat 4.24g
Sodium 167mg
Potassium 372g
Carbohydrates 20.45g
Fiber 1.4g
Protein 1.87g
Iron 0.34mg
Vitamin C 12.mg
Magnesium 25mg

 

Chris Watson

I'm the founder of EatForLonger.Com. I'm an enthusiast researching and sharing foodstuff and lifestyle based insights. Simple food based concepts for optimising your Healthspan, nutrition and all-round well-being. I hope it inspires you to make tiny changes and add some life to your years. Read more About Me here

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