In Defense of Potatoes.

This Thanksgiving, I’ve been assigned to make the mashed potatoes for our family dinner. I love potatoes!  Baked Potatoes, mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes, scalloped potatoes, hash brown potatoes, potato pancakes and yes, even french fries (on occasion).  I love ‘em ALL!

Sometimes I get really irked, though, when I hear or read information stating that potatoes are bad for you.  And, while I would agree that french fries should NOT count towards your daily servings of produce, I definitely think potatoes can be part of a healthy, balanced eating plan!

Here are some reasons why…

  • Potatoes are a very good source of Vitamin C: 26 % Daily Value (DV).
  • Potatoes are a good source of Vitamin B6, Copper, Potassium, and Manganese: 14-21% DV for these nutrients.
  • Potatoes are a good source of fiber: 1 cup of potatoes with skin has approximately 4 grams of fiber (about 2 grams fiber for potatoes without skin).
  • In addition to vitamins and minerals, researchers have also identified multiple different phytochemicals in potatoes which may be beneficial in fighting cancer, cardiovascular disease and other medical conditions.
  • Potatoes contains kukoamines, natural chemicals that are being studied for their blood pressure lowering potential.
  • For those on a gluten free diet, potatoes, fresh from the ground, are naturally gluten free!

Some considerations when selecting/preparing potatoes…

  • All forms of potatoes can fit in to a balanced diet, but try and prepare potatoes with the skin on most of the time, as the skin provides the majority of the fiber and is also a concentrated source of its nutrients.
  • The Environmental Working Group (EWG) includes potatoes on it’s “Dirty Dozen” list of produce with the highest levels of pesticide residue, so its best to choose organic whenever possible, and to thoroughly wash and rinse potatoes well before preparing and serving them.
  • Consume potatoes with a source of fat and/or protein (see recipe examples and links below) especially if you find your blood sugar gets too high after consuming plain potatoes.
  • Have fun and experiment with a wide variety of potatoes you can now find at the grocery tore and at your local farmer’s markets.  Some more exotic varieties I have found here in San Diego include red, purple, blue, and fingerling potatoes.

Simple ways to enjoy potatoes and a couple of links to recipes…

  • Baked potato (rub olive oil on skin and bake in oven WITHOUT foil for a crispy skin) topped with steamed or sauteed veggies and cheese.  Try broccolini sauteed with olive oil and garlic and topped with cheddar cheese; Greek salad topped baked potato (chopped: tomato, cucumbers, red onion, and kalamata olives; feta cheese; and olive oil/lemon juice/oregano vinaigrette).
  • Bake a potato (try Yukon Gold or Red Bliss Potato) with the skin on.  Slice in to rounds and serve with your favorite topping/dip.  Try goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and green onions or chopped tomato, basil, and olive oil.
  • Try one of my favorite simple meals: Roast chicken, homemade mashed potatoes (boiled Yukon Gold potatoes mashed with butter and milk, and salt and pepper to taste) steamed fresh broccoli or other veggie, and a green salad.  If you have children make sure to get them involved in the mashing process!
  • Try one of my favorite recipes at Food.com and submitted by Evelyn from Athens, Greece-Greek Roast Potatoes Note: I like to use well scrubbed Yukon Gold potatoes with the peel on for this recipe.
  • I haven’t tried this recipe YET,  but I but I love Indian food, and have eaten a similar potato and cauliflower dish in Indian restaurants before.  Here’s the recipe from one of my favorite food  blogs, Chow and Chatter.

For more nutrition info on potatoes and more info on how to select, store, and prepare them please check out George Mateljan’s website, The World’s Healthiest Foods.  And definitely try and make it a point to enjoy potatoes this Thanksgiving and from now on!

Are you a potato lover?  Do you now, or have you ever, excluded potatoes from your diet, thinking they are unhealthy for you?  If you are a potato eater, what are your favorite ways to eat them?

I would love to hear from you!  Please click here to leave a comment, ask a nutrition question, or leave a suggestion for The Spicy RD.  Or, share the post below.



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  • User AvatarAlanna { Love this pumpkin hummus recipe! I also never cook with smoked paprika but I think that should change! And those wraps - YUM. } – Oct 22, 8:50 PM
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