Potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C, Potassium, fibre, B vitamins copper, tryptophan, manganese and even lutein, notes the book ‘Healing Foods’ by DK Publishing. It also works wonders for curbing inflammation in the body and boost immunity and healthy blood circulation.
What are Potatoes?
Potatoes are useful for humans, as they are a storehouse of valuable vitamins and substances we need.
Potatoes are one of the most popular vegetables, both in India and worldwide. All thanks to potatoes, we have our beloved French fries, which is one of the human race’s favourite dishes. Although this dish is not as healthy as it should be, many other dishes with potatoes as ingredients are much healthier. You see potatoes in your curries, you see potatoes in your stews, street-side chaat, homemade pulavs and biryani, you see potatoes everywhere. Potatoes are an indispensable part of Indian cooking, and we aren’t complaining! It’s ability to blend into any preparation and shine as one the star ingredients are what makes it a favourite in kitchens both home and abroad. The many health and skin benefits of potatoes make the vegetable all the more special. Potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C, Potassium, fibre, B vitamins copper, tryptophan, manganese and even lutein, notes the book ‘Healing Foods’ by DK Publishing. It also works wonders for curbing inflammation in the body and boost immunity and healthy blood circulation.
Health Benefits of Potatoes
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.
Potatoes are an excellent source of many vitamins and minerals.
One medium baked potato (6.1 ounces or 173 grams), including the skin, provides the below listed.
- 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.
Here are 10 health and nutrition benefits of potatoes;
1. Reducing Inflammation
According to the book ‘Healing Foods’ the “Alkalising and anti-inflammatory, potatoes soothe stomach and duodenum ulcers and reduce stomach acidity. They may also relieve the inflammation associated with arthritis.” Add potatoes to your diet, but, remember that eating anything in excess is harmful. Moderation is the key!
2. 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
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.
3. Regulates Blood Pressure
Yes, potatoes can help ensure healthy BP. Now that doesn’t mean you start noshing into greasy French fries, chips and all the processed junk. The consequences of munching into the junk will take its toll on your heart, but that doesn’t mean you need to eliminate potatoes from your diet right away. If prepared well (Read: Baked, mashed or tossed in salads), potatoes can help regulate blood pressure. Macrobiotic nutritionist and Health Practitioner Shilpa Arora says, “Potatoes have about 100 calories, but its highly nutritious and it is only the way we cook potatoes that have given it a bad rep. It is great for people with high blood pressure and water retention coz it balances high sodium levels.” Potatoes are also rich in chlorogenic acid and anthocyanins, chemicals that help lower blood pressure.
4. Improve Blood Sugar Control
Potatoes contain a special type of starch known as resistant starch. 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.
5. Helps Calm You Down
According to the book ‘Healing Foods’, Potatoes, especially its white flesh, is rich with tryptophan, an amino acid with natural sedative properties that helps calm the nerves. L-tryptophan is an amino acid. L-tryptophan is called an essential amino acid as our body can’t make it naturally. It must be acquired from food like potatoes.
6. Improve Digestive Health
The resistant starch in potatoes 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.
Studies have shown that butyrate can reduce inflammation in the colon, strengthen the colon’s defenses, aid patients with inflammatory bowel disorders, such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and diverticulitis and reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.
7. Heart-Healing Properties
Potatoes contain zero cholesterol? It is only the oil and cholesterol laden ingredients it is cooked with that makes it a threat to the heart. Potatoes, in fact, could do wonders for your heart with its heart healing antioxidant anthocyanins. They also contain fiber, potassium, and vitamins C and B6 – all of which are great for heart health.
8. Improve Brain Health
The alpha lipoic acid, a co enzyme present in the potatoes can help boost overall cognitive health. Experts have linked this acid to have beneficial effects on Alzheimer’s patients as well. A number of vitamins and minerals present in potatoes positively affect the function of the brain (including zinc, phosphorus, and B complex). Vitamin B6 is particularly critical to maintaining neurological health.
9. Extremely Versatile
Not only are potatoes healthy, but they are also delicious and versatile.
Potatoes can be prepared in many ways, including boiled, baked and steamed. However, frying potatoes may dramatically increase their calorie content if you use a lot of oil.
Instead, try slicing potatoes and then roasting them in the oven with a light drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of rosemary.
Make sure not to remove the skin of the potatoes, as most of the nutrients are located there. This will ensure you receive the maximum amount of nutrients from the potato.