5 important Health and Nutrition Benefits of Potatoes

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5 important Health and Nutrition Benefits of Potatoes

Potatoes are packed with vitamins and minerals, though the variety and preparation method can affect the nutritional content.

Potatoes are a versatile root vegetable and a staple food in many households.

They are an underground tuber that grows on the roots of the Solanum tuberosum plant.

Potatoes are relatively cheap, easy to grow and packed with a variety of nutrients.

Here are 7 health and nutrition benefits of potatoes.

  1. Packed With Nutrients

Potatoes are an excellent source of many vitamins and minerals.

One medium baked potato (6.1 ounces or 173 grams), including the skin, provides:

  • Calories: 161
  • Fat: 0.2 grams
  • Protein: 4.3 grams
  • Carbs: 36.6 grams
  • Fiber: 3.8 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

The nutritional content of potatoes can vary depending on the variety and how they are prepared. For example, frying potatoes adds more calories and fat than baking them.

It’s also important to note the skin of the potatoes contains a great amount of the vitamins and minerals. Peeling potatoes can significantly reduce their nutritional content.

Summary Potatoes are packed with vitamins and minerals, though the variety and preparation method can affect the nutritional content.

  1. Contain Antioxidants

Potatoes are rich in compounds like flavonoids, carotenoids and phenolic acids.

These compounds act as antioxidants in the body by neutralizing potentially harmful molecules known as free radicals. When free radicals accumulate, they can increase the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

For example, a test-tube study found that the antioxidants present in potatoes may suppress the growth of liver and colon cancer cells. Studies have also found that colored potatoes like purple potatoes can have three to four times more antioxidants than white potatoes. This makes them potentially more effective at neutralizing free radicals.

However, most of this evidence is from test-tube studies. More human-based research is necessary before making any health recommendations.

  1. May Improve Blood Sugar Control

Potatoes contain resistant starch, which may help reduce insulin resistance. In turn, this can help improve blood sugar control.

This starch is not broken down and fully absorbed by the body. Instead, it reaches the large intestine where it becomes a source of nutrients for the beneficial bacteria in your gut.

Research has linked resistant starch to many health benefits, including reducing insulin resistance, which, in turn, improves blood sugar control.

In an animal study, mice fed resistant starch showed reduced insulin resistance. This means their bodies were more efficient at removing excess sugar from the blood.

A study of people with type 2 diabetes found consuming a meal with resistant starch helped better remove excess blood sugar after a meal.

In another study, ten people were fed 30 grams of resistant starch daily over a four-week period. Scientists found that resistant starch reduced insulin resistance by 33%.

Interestingly, you can also increase the resistant starch content of potatoes. To do this, store boiled potatoes in the fridge overnight and consume them cold.

  1. May Improve Digestive Health

The resistant starch in potatoes may also improve digestive health.

When resistant starch reaches the large intestine, it becomes food for beneficial gut bacteria. These bacteria digest it and turn it into short chain fatty acids.

Resistant starch from potatoes is mostly converted into the short-chain fatty acid butyrate — the preferred food source for gut bacteria.

Studies have shown that butyrate can reduce inflammation in the colon, strengthen the colon’s defenses and reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.

Moreover, butyrate may aid patients with inflammatory bowel disorders, such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and diverticulitis.

That said, most of the evidence surrounding butyrate is from test-tube or animal studies. More human-based research is necessary before making recommendations.

Summary Resistant starch in potatoes is a source of nutrition for beneficial gut bacteria. They convert it to the short-chain fatty acid butyrate, which has been linked to reduced inflammation in the colon, improved colon defenses and a lower risk of colorectal cancer.

  1. Naturally Gluten-Free

Potatoes are naturally gluten-free, which makes them an excellent food choice for people with celiac disease or a non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

The gluten free diet is one of the most popular diets worldwide. It involves eliminating gluten, which is a family of proteins found in grains like spelt, wheat, barley and rye.

Most people do not experience adverse symptoms from consuming gluten.

However, people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity can experience severe discomfort when consuming foods that contain gluten. Symptoms include sharp stomach pain, diarrhea, constipation, bloating and skin rashes, just to name a few.

If you follow a gluten-free diet, then you should consider adding potatoes to your diet. They are naturally gluten-free, which means they won’t trigger uncomfortable symptoms.

While potatoes are gluten-free, many common potato recipes are not. Some potato dishes that contain gluten include certain au gratin recipes and potato bread.

If you have celiac disease or a non-celiac gluten sensitivity, be sure to read the full list of ingredients before eating a potato dish.

Potatoes are naturally gluten-free, which makes them an excellent food choice for people with celiac disease or a non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

 

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