If you’re trying to lose weight or just lead a healthier life overall, there are likely several foods you’ve decided to cut from your diet. While you’re definitely better off if you limit your consumption of certain things—like fast food, sugary desserts, and soda—there are a few foods you may be ruling out that are actually highly nutritious, including one surprising starchy vegetable. That’s right: it turns out that potatoes can be a great component of a healthy diet!
To learn more about the health benefits of this versatile vegetable and debunk some common misconceptions about it, we spoke to dietitian Howard Goldstein, MS, RD and nutrition consultant to Potatoes USA. He told us that potatoes are packed with nutritional benefits and can even be a great food to aid weight loss.
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Nutritional benefits of potatoes
You may have ruled regarding potatoes out as a healthy vegetable due to a series of misconceptions you’ve heard regarding their nutritional value, but Goldstein assures us that “potatoes are a vegetable and nutrient-dense to boot!” First of all, if you think carbs are all bad, he says it’s time to forget all the myths you’ve heard about this food group. It turns out that “carbs are our brain’s primary fuel and a key source of energy for our muscles,” which makes them a key component of any healthy diet.
Potatoes in particular are one great carb to consume regularly because, as Goldstein notes, they’re what’s known as a complex carbohydrate. “Complex carbohydrates are digested slower and have more vitamins, minerals, and fiber than simple carbohydrates like sugar,” he explains, adding that “most of our carbs should be complex carbs like potatoes.” Who knew?!
So, what kind of vitamins and minerals can this delicious food pack into a meal? It’s likely more than you’d expect! “Potatoes are a nutrition powerhouse!” Goldstein praises. For starters, this vegetable is full of Vitamin C—in fact, they can provide almost a third of the Vitamin C we should consume every day to support our immune system and protect us from cellular damage.
Additionally, Goldstein says potatoes are a fantastic source of potassium, which can help improve muscle function and blood pressure as well as lower stroke risk. They also provide a great amount of Vitamin B6, which plays an important role in your body’s carbohydrate and protein metabolism along with its immune functions.
It isn’t just these nutrients that make potatoes such a healthy food, though. They’re also packed with protein at 3 grams per serving. This means they can help you build muscle and stay fuller longer. Plus, Goldstein notes that “the quality of potato protein is high, with an average biological value (BV) of 90.” This is higher quality protein than soybean protein, which comes in at a BV of 84, and bean protein, which has a BV of 73.
This vegetable is also an excellent source of fibre, offering 2 grams per serving. In addition to helping you feel fuller longer and aiding digestion, a fibrous diet can also help improve blood lipid levels and regulate blood glucose. It’s a wonder potatoes were ever deemed unhealthy!
Potatoes and weight loss
Potatoes likely aren’t the first thing you think of when you imagine a waist-slimming diet, but thanks to all of these nutritious benefits, this food can actually be a great ingredient in tons of healthy recipes that aid your weight loss.
“Potatoes only have 110 calories per serving as well as being fat, sodium, and cholesterol-free,” Goldstein points out. That sounds great! Plus, he notes that “potatoes fill you up, not out,” meaning that since they’re so full of protein and fiber, they can help satiate hunger without loading you up with calories and fat. In fact, “research suggests that potatoes are one of the most filling foods you can eat, and they may stave off hunger better than common sides like pasta, rice, and bread.” Potato lovers rejoice!
Luckily, this tasty food is highly adaptable as well. Goldstein says whether you’re plant-based, on a diet like Whole30, Mediterranean, DASH, or even gluten-free, there are tons of healthy recipes to try out. We can’t wait to dive in to the wonderful world of potatoes—without having to feel guilty about it!