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.
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
- Blue or purple
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:
|Vitamin C||28% of recommended daily intake (RDI)|
|Vitamin B6||27% RDI|
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.
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?
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.
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?
Common grains include:
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?
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.
- 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.
- 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)
- 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.
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?
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.
|Vitamin B6||15% RDI|
In contrast, the nutritional content of 100g of boiled russet potatoes is: