Nutritional Information for Potatoes
Red, blue/purple and gold potatoes contain high concentrations of antioxidants, including phenolic acids, anthocyanins, and carotenoids. Their skin color reflects the antioxidants present, therefore reds and blues offer more nutrition than plain old-fashioned white potatoes. White potatoes have been given a bad name in the United States, that’s generally because most Americans consume white potatoes in the form of greasy french fries and hashbrowns, buttery mashed potatoes, or loaded with bacon, sour cream, and cheese. and It turns out the plain-old potato can actually be a healthful food when not slathered in animal fats or lots of oil. The key is the eat the skin! Potato skins are where the majority of nutrients reside. So even if eating a Russet white potato there are still some benefits. For example, there’s more potassium than a sweet potato and almost double the potassium of a banana. Here are the numbers: 422 mg (12% of the recommended intake) in a banana, 541 mg (15% of recommended intake) in a medium sweet potato, and 751 mg (21% of recommended intake) in a medium white potato. All potatoes can be a healthful choice, but it definitely depends on how they are prepared and always shoot for the reds, blues and golds over the whites. Potatoes are also high in vitamin C and are a good source of many B vitamins.
Benefits of Potatoes
Cancer Prevention Benefits
Deep frying potatoes produces carcinogens like acrylamides and ought to be avoided. Instead, try baking or steaming or boiling potatoes. Consumer Reports claims “An easy way to prepare potatoes at a cookout is to wrap them in aluminum foil before grilling. That will steam them instead, and steaming doesn’t produce acrylamide. Neither does boiling. If you’re slicing potatoes, rinse the slices in water before cooking by any method, which will also reduce acrylamide formation. And always aim for a golden or light-brown color—no darker—according to the Food and Drug Administration.”
There is no data, if any, on prostate cancer. But what we do know is that multi-colored potatoes (especially purple-fleshed sweet potatoes) have the ability to fight inflammation. The presence of inflammation has been associated with heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer. Studies comparing the effect of different colored potatoes on inflammatory markers show that purple potatoes win the prize. They beat out yellow potatoes and white potatoes. In fact, white potatoes didn’t do very well at all. This is why it’s important to limit the large white ones and always shoot for purple, blue, yellow, and red potatoes.
In women eating a dietary pattern including boiled potatoes they appeared to have less risk of breast cancer. The researcher were looking at types of resistant starches, basically starch that reaches the large intestine and gives health benefits like producing short chain fats essential for health. Some of the foods they looked at were boiled potatoes, whole wheat bread and legumes. Oppositely, those eating more white bread and biscuits appeared to have an increased risk of breast cancer.
Men's Health Benefits
Purple potatoes may possess some of the antioxidant properties necessary to fight reactive oxygen species (ROS) associated with aging. In study participants with high blood pressure eating purple potatoes seemed to help them reduce their risk of heart disease and stroke without causing any weight gain. Large studies exploring the role of potatoes in human health haven’t been very conclusive. Some studies show they may help with weight management and diabetes, while others show either no effect, and sometimes even the opposite. Of course though if participants only eat French fries as their potato source I think most folks might have an idea what would happen. Take for instance this study, which found men eating more French fries having a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Purple potatoes may be the best choice for men due to their ability to fight inflammation and DNA damage.
Ways to Use Potatoes
- Boil, steam, or grill potatoes in aluminum foil.
- Boil and mash them (try to keep some, if not all, of the skin).
- Add diced potatoes to stir fry.
- Sauté diced potatoes with onions, peppers, and mushrooms. Add to a whole grain or corn tortilla with beans, salsa, guacamole or avocado.
- Rather than buying french fries, try making home baked fries.
- Sauté potatoes with onions and serve with tofu scramble.
- Make healthy potato salad by roasting potatoes, making cashew mayo, adding lemon juice, and herbs and spices (e.g. garlic powder, chives).
- Roast potatoes with a small amount olive oil/ avocado/ or veggie broth, chives or rosemary. Careful not to overly brown.
Resources for Potatoes
Nutrition Facts: www.nutritionfacts.org
Physicians Committee: www.pcrm.org
American Institute for Cancer Research: www.aicr.org
USDA Nutrient Database: Potatoes
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