7 Potential Health Benefits Of White Potatoes
Potatoes tend to be overlooked for the whole, natural food that they are and with all the attention paid to ultra-processed forms like potato chips and french fries, it’s not hard to see why. Carbs, including those found in white potatoes, have been misunderstood and demonized, says Jordan Hill, RD, a registered dietitian with Top Nutrition Coaching. As a result, potatoes are often treated as inherently unhealthy, but that’s not quite the case.
Basic white or red potatoes tend not to be regarded in the same way as their orange cousins, even though the nutritional differences between white and sweet potatoes are negligible (white potatoes actually win when it comes to potassium and protein). Much of the healthiness of potatoes depends on how they’re prepared, and when they’re not fried in fatty oils or smothered in thick spreads, white potatoes are a high-quality source of key nutrients and antioxidants. Despite their narrow role on fast food menus, there are plenty of ways to enjoy these tubers in all their fluffy, starchy glory without sacrificing nutrition.
Another plus? Amid rising food prices, white potatoes are an affordable, accessible, and filling side for the whole family. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, potatoes remained under $1 per pound in April 2023.
If you need more convincing to add a five-pound bag to your next grocery list, here are seven health benefits white potatoes bring to the table.
1. They are a good source of fiber
An average white potato, including its skin, contains more than 5 grams (g) of fiber, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). That may not sound like a lot, but it’s between 13 and 20 percent of the recommended daily intake (25 g for women and 38 g for men), which can add up quickly when eaten in larger portions, says Brookell White, RD. a data curator nutritionist at MyFitnessPal. Fiber contributes to the maintenance of a healthy digestive system, regular bowel movements, regulated blood sugar levels and increased satiety, says Hill. Just know that you won’t reap all of these benefits if you crack open the peeler to prepare them—about half of a potato’s fiber is in the skin, research has found.
2. I’m a gut-loving resistant starch
Potatoes contain amylose, a resistant starch which, as the name suggests, resists being broken down during digestion and, therefore, acts as an insoluble fiber and prebiotic that feeds the good bacteria in the gut and helps move waste through the tract. digestive, says Amy Lee, MD, the chief of nutrition for Nucific. Resistant starches were also shown, in a June 2019 Nutrition and diabetes study, to decrease blood sugar response and improve insulin resistance and sensitivity, especially in those with diabetes. By proxy, these effects can prevent colon cancer and gallstone formation, lower cholesterol, and help a person maintain a healthy weight.
3. They contain lots of protective vitamin C
Vitamin C is a disease-preventing antioxidant that supports the immune system, protects cells from damage, promotes collagen synthesis and reduces inflammation, according to the National Institutes of Health. And a white potato is a fantastic source of it, making up about 20 percent of the recommended daily value.
4. They are rich in potassium
Potassium is the most abundant mineral in potatoes and its benefits are many. Potassium is an important electrolyte in the nervous system for maintaining cellular fluid levels, it is also involved in blood pressure control and may reduce the risk of stroke, research shows. One medium potato contains 867 milligrams (mg) of potassium, or about 25 to 30 percent of the recommended daily value for adults, which ranges from 2,600 to 3,400 milligrams (mg), per the NIH. Hill adds that the potassium in potatoes helps maintain heart and muscle function and supports proper hydration.
5. They can contribute to weight loss
Although popular fried forms of potatoes are associated with weight gain, properly prepared potatoes can have the opposite effect. A small study published in December 2022 in Journal of Medicinal Foods found that participants with uncontrolled glucose levels experienced reduced insulin resistance and weight loss after eight weeks on a potato-rich diet.
Past research has also shown that potatoes have a high level of satiety, or the feeling of fullness you get after eating a food. Study subjects who consumed the same amount of whole boiled potatoes, white rice, or white penne for three consecutive days in a random order reported feeling fuller, more satisfied, and wanting to eat less after consuming the potato than after consuming the potato. rice or pasta. Because potatoes help fill you up more for the same amount of calories, they can help reduce your total calorie intake, aiding in weight loss.
6. Contrary to popular belief, they do not pose a risk to heart health
A review posted in December 2020 in Systematic reviewsof 121 studies published between 1946 and July 2020 have disproved the association between potatoes and cardiovascular disease, including diabetes, stroke and high blood pressure. The review said there was no compelling evidence to suggest an association between potato intake and the risk of these diseases. Dr. Lee adds that the vitamin B3 and potassium found in potato skins, by contrast, are great for heart health.
7. They can reduce the risk of chronic diseases
More research is needed to look at potatoes’ ability to reduce disease risk, but some research, such as a study published in European Journal of Nutrition in 2019, found that they’re, at the very least, neutrally associated with chronic diseases like high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, stroke, and colorectal cancer when they’re mashed, boiled, or cooked—not fried—that is.
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