Potato is an incredibly healthy source of fuel – nutrient–packed and has no fat, sodium or cholesterol. And they are jam-packed with essential vitamin B6, fibre, magnesium and antioxidants. It has more potassium than a banana and nearly half your daily value of vitamin C. Like any food, there are perhaps a million ways one can eat them – steamed, baked and even fried. However, to maximise their health benefits, prepare them in a healthy way avoiding frying.
There are many varieties of potatoes to choose from. They include: sweet, red, purple, petites, fingerling and russet. The nutritional content of potatoes can vary depending on the variety and how they are prepared. For example, fried form adds more calories and fat than steamed or baked. Also, peeling them can significantly reduce their nutritional content. So, cook them with their skin that contains a great amount of vitamins and minerals.
Health benefits of potatoes:
- Potatoes combat free radical accumulation of which may increase the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Coloured potatoes like purple may contain three to four times more antioxidants than white potatoes. They are thus potentially more effective at neutralising free radicals.
- Resistant starch is a content that may help reduce insulin resistance and this may improve blood sugar control. Potatoes are good source of resistant starch. It may also improve digestive health.
- Potato is naturally gluten-free. It makes it an excellent food choice for people with celiac disease.
- Potatoes are incredibly filling foods. Not only filling and nutritious, they are extremely versatile too. They can be prepared in many healthy ways including boiling, steaming and baking. However, frying is the worst way to cook them as this process may increase their calorie content drastically due to its contact with a lot of oil. It may help you lose weight curbing hunger pangs and cravings if eaten in correct way.
Healthy ways to cook potatoes so as to make them part of a healthy diet:
- Boil potatoes with skin- Boiling potatoes can lower their nutritional content like vitamin C and B vitamins if they are boiled without skin. Boiling them with skin can save nutrients that may lost in cooking water. Try to use minimal water like with steaming.
- Vary your potato variety intake (white/orange/purple)- It may help you get a variety of antioxidants. Mix up white ones with orange sweet potatoes and purple ones. Give it a try. It can give a boost of the same phytochemical in blueberries and grapes.
- Bake potatoes with skin- It is one of the healthiest ways to cook potatoes. Whole and baked potatoes with skin on is the purest form as this process can minimise loss of nutrients.
- What to add and what not to- Avoid adding ghee, unhealthy oils, butter, cream, cheese and artificial flavouring in high amounts. Use healthy oils like olive oil for baking potatoes. Use fresh or dried herbs for seasoning. Don’t use the only salt.
- Avoid eating fried potatoes, highly processed potatoes and potatoes topped with high calorie condiments so as to eat them in healthy form.
- Potatoes should be eaten in moderation. A medium potato contains around 164 calories and 30 percent of the recommended daily B6 intake. A new study suggests that women should eat them not more than three times a week, otherwise they may raise the risk of developing high blood pressure.
Make potatoes a delicious as well as a healthy treat!