Benefits of Eating Potatoes

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Benefits of Eating Potatoes

October 30
18:05 2017

How many of us have been told that potatoes are a BAD carb and that we should avoid them? They are high in starch, which breaks down in the digestive system into various natural sugars and besides, don’t bad carbs also cause weight gain?

Did you know that prior to the 1950s, most potatoes were eaten fresh, but since then the commercial processing of potatoes have taken over? By 2000, 64% of potatoes consumed in the United States were processed, compared to only 35% back in the 1960s.

Did you also know that potatoes are the number 1 vegetable crop in the United States? Worldwide, only rice, wheat and corn exceed potatoes for total consumption.

“Americans, on average, eat 55 lbs. (35 kilograms) of frozen potatoes per year, 42 lbs. (19 kg) of fresh potatoes, 17 lbs. (8 kg) of potato chips and 14 lbs. (6 kg) of dehydrated potato products.”

Who doesn’t like a serving of French fried potatoes, or a serving of hash browns or large spoonful of creamy mashed potatoes. What about a baked potato smothered in your favorite toppings including butter, cheese, onions, chives, sour cream and bacon?

Sorry if I’m making you hungry. In fact, I’m making myself hungry writing this.

The problem with potatoes is either the way they are fixed or what we put on them. French fries are deep fried in oil or fat. Hash browns or fried potatoes are fried with oil or fat. Mashed potatoes contain milk, butter and sometimes cheese and other extras. It’s these extras and the cooking in the oils and fats that make potatoes bad for you. Additionally, when potatoes are commercially processed, some of the beneficial nutrients are destroyed or removed leaving mostly the starch behind for consumption.

A study published this year of 4,400 people over an 8-year period looked at potato consumption and death rates. The people in the study ranged in age between 45-79. By the end of the study, 236 people had died. The researchers found that those who ate French fries, hash browns, home fried potatoes and similarly prepared potatoes were ‘more than twice as likely to have died’.

But what if I told you that potatoes have been getting a bad rap? Would you be surprised to learn that potatoes are actually good for you and contain some very healthy nutrients and properties?

Did you know that a medium sized baked potato only has about 110 calories? Did you know that potatoes are good sources of vitamins B6 & C, manganese, niacin, pantothenic acid and phosphorus?  Speaking nutritionally, a medium size potato contains Zero fat and Zero cholesterol. They do contain only 8mg of sodium, 3 g of protein, 2 g of fiber and 1 g of sugar, 2% of daily calcium, 6% of recommended iron, and 45% of recommended vitamin C. However, they also contain 26g of total carbohydrates, which is only 9% of the daily recommended amount, unless you are diabetic. Potatoes also contain phytonutrients (carotenoids, flavonoids and caffeic acid) which help promote health.

What if I told you that potatoes may help lower blood pressure? This is thought to be due to the fiber they contain combined with the zero cholesterol. Additionally, the potato peel contains potassium, which also helps lower blood pressure.

The vitamin B6 found in potatoes is vital to maintaining neurological health. It helps in the production of brain chemicals like serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. Eating a spud may also help reduce stress, depression and some suggest they can help reduce the effects of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

The vitamin C in potatoes helps with the body’s immune system, helping to prevent things like the common cold, scurvy and other illnesses.

The high fiber content helps with digestion. Potatoes also contain electrolytes that are often depleted after exercising, hard work or athletic competition.

Ladies do you want to maintain smooth healthy skin? Potatoes might help. This is because they contain vitamins C, B6, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc, all of which help promote healthier skin.

Have you ever seen purple potatoes? I’ve grown white, red, yellow and even blue potatoes, but reports say that purple potatoes contain higher levels of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce the risk of cancer.

For people who have low blood glucose levels, potatoes can help raise the blood glucose level which is also why diabetes should be careful eating potatoes.

So how do you fix a potato to reap the beneficial aspects of it? Other than eating it raw, which many people still do, one researcher suggests that either baking or microwaving a whole potato, still in the skin. This seems to have the least nutrient loss. Once you peel a potato, you have automatically defeated the health benefits. Boiling a potato results in the loss of 80% of the nutrients, which are largely water soluble and poured down the drain after boiling. All the experts highly recommend eating the potato peel as that contains a lot of nutrients, including the fiber.

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