Potatoes are everyone’s favorite. No matter how you cook it and at which meal you add it, potatoes are versatile food ingredients in so many recipes. It is a root vegetable, which is a staple food.
This root of potato plant is underground. The scientific name of potato plant is Solanum tuberosum. Compared to other vegetables, potatoes are inexpensive and easy to grow. You can even grow them in your backyard if you are into home growing. Additionally, potatoes have loads of nutrients in them.
Potatoes are ignored for being carbohydrate-rich. Most people avoid eating potatoes for their high-calorie count. On the other side, potatoes have good effects on health. You might like to know the following 7 best nutritional benefits of potatoes.
1- Nutritional Boost
Talk about potatoes and you will know about a huge list of nutrients that it has in it. It includes vitamins and minerals too. Do you know that a medium-size baked potato with its skin has following things inside it?
- Size; medium
- Weight;1 ounces or 173 grams
- Total calories;161
- Fat content;2 grams
- Protein;3 grams
- Net carbs;6 grams
- Fiber;8 grams
- Vitamin C; 28% of the RDI
- Vitamin B6; 27% of the RDI
- Potassium; 26% of the RDI
- Manganese; 19% of the RDI
- Magnesium; 12% of the RDI
- Phosphorus; 12% of the RDI
- Niacin; 12% of the RDI
- Folate; 12% of the RDI
These statistics are for a medium sized potato. For bigger or smaller size, these quantities may vary. It also depends on how they are prepared. Baked potatoes are usually a standard to know about the nutritional values of its elements. If you opt for deep-frying, it will add up its calories etc.
The skin of the potato is a source of nutrients and vitamins. Though many of the recipes don’t use potato skins but yet if you plan to eat baked potatoes, keep the skin intact. Peeling the potatoes will reduce their nutritional content.
2- Rich in Antioxidants
Potatoes are naturally rich in compounds like flavonoids, carotenoids, and phenolic acids, collectively called antioxidants. These compounds are very beneficial for the health. They have a tendency to neutralize the damaging molecules called free radicals.
These free radicals are found inside the body and when they accumulate; they can increase the risk of certain chronic diseases such as heart problems, diabetes, cancer etc. It is even shown by research that antioxidants of potatoes may sometime help to suppress the growing cancer cells of liver and colon.
Most of the study data on potatoes are test tube studies. There is a need of human-based research before making a high health recommendation.
3- Role in maintaining blood sugar
Potatoes have a special type of starch in them. It is called resistant starch. Unlike another starch type, it doesn’t break down and is fully absorbed into the body. What it does is that it makes it way to the large intestine and serves are a source of nutrients for the good bacteria that reside in a healthy gut.
This resistant starch is linked with a number of health benefits such as reducing insulin resistance that eventually maintains the blood sugar. It is proven by research on an animal model that resistant starch has a role in insulin resistance. It means once the excess sugar is removed from the body, it becomes more efficient.
The good thing is that you can control the quantity of this resistant starch. For example, you can increase or decrease the resistant starch content by storing the boiled potatoes in the refrigerator overnight. When you consume them cold, they will have the higher content of starch in them.
4- Role in digestion
The resistant starch of potatoes is also thought to be helpful in improving the digestive health. When it makes its way to the intestine, it provides nutrition to the bacteria that live in the gut. These bacteria are a natural part of a digestive system and have a beneficial role in health.
When the resistant starch is available for bacteria, they digest it and convert it into short chain fatty acids. Most of this starch is converted into short-chain fatty acid butyrate, which is one preferred food source for bacteria in the gut.
This butyrate is able to reduce inflammation in the colon, it also strengthens the colon’s defenses and reduces the risk of colorectal cancer in humans. It is even proven by research for all the said benefits.
This butyrate is also beneficial for the patients which are suffering from inflammatory bowel disorders i.e. Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and diverticulitis.
However, all these benefits are tested by test-tube or animal studies. There is a requirement for more human-based research is before making recommendations for its intake.
5- A gluten-free food source
The gluten-free diet is one of the most sorted out diets in the world. It aims to remove the gluten completely from the diet. Gluten is a family of proteins, which are normally found in grains like spelt, wheat, barley, and rye.
Some people are sensitive to gluten and they experience adverse symptoms from consuming gluten. Some of these people are patients with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten in which they may experience severe discomfort when they consume foods that contain gluten in them.
The symptoms of this discomfort include sharp stomach pain, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, rashes on skin and others. If you want to go for gluten free diet, potatoes could be a good ingredient in your diet.
Potatoes are naturally gluten-free. They cannot trigger an allergic or sensitivity reaction even in gluten intolerant or sensitive people. Don’t confuse potatoes with potato recipes. Some of the recipes i.e. gravy, bread etc. are not gluten-free.
6- Highly fulfilling food
If you ask people about the most filling food options, potatoes will be on top of the list. Aside from the nutritional benefits, potatoes are very filling. It is even proven by user data analysis. The study suggests potatoes to be seven times more filling than croissants, which were ranked as the least filling food item from food list.
You know that the filling foods will make you lose and maintain weight as they are helpful to overcome hunger pangs.
7- Versatile by nature
Talk about potatoes and you will know a thousand ways to cook them. They are so versatile that you can use them in so many recipes. You can boil them, bake them, steam them and cook them. Frying potatoes increase the calories content but other options are not that calorie rich.
If you are watching your diet, try to use boiled and baked potatoes with herbs and olive oil drizzle. Do not remove the skin as it is loaded with nutrients.
Potatoes are an extremely versatile food source, which is rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. All of these make it a healthy food choice. There are so many studies to support the health benefits of potatoes.
They have the role in maintaining blood sugar, reducing the risk of heart problems, blood pressure and enhance immunity. They are gluten-free and are also very filling. All in all, potatoes are a healthy choice in food when you use it in moderation.