Are Potatoes Healthy? Here’s Why You Should Be Eating Them
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Potatoes are quite the enigma; appearance-wise, they cannot be trusted, but nutritionally, they’re rock stars in disguise. It is thus necessary to understand that the tubers that are consumed as luxury items have many nutritional vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that assist in boosting the health of the body. From enhancing the immune system to aiding the body in digestion, potatoes are undoubtedly the superstars that must be served. 

Packed with surprising health benefits and bursting with culinary potential, potatoes are more than just fillers on your plate. Dive deeper and discover why potatoes should be your new secret weapon for a healthy and delicious kitchen adventure!

Nutritional Benefits of Potatoes

Potatoes are often underrated despite being a staple in diets worldwide. Packed with essential nutrients and versatile in culinary applications, potatoes offer a range of health benefits that make them a valuable addition to balanced diets.

  • Rich in Essential Nutrients 

Potatoes are a good source of several essential nutrients, including potassium, vitamin C, vitamin B6, and fibre. Potassium plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy blood pressure levels, while vitamin C supports immune function and collagen formation. Vitamin B6 is essential for brain health and metabolism, making potatoes a nutrient-dense choice.

  • High in Dietary Fibre 

The skin of potatoes is a valuable source of dietary fibre, which promotes digestive health and helps regulate blood sugar levels. Fibre also contributes to a feeling of fullness, aiding in weight management and reducing the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.

  • Complex Carbohydrates for Sustained Energy 

Potatoes provide complex carbohydrates that are slowly digested, providing a steady release of energy throughout the day. This makes potatoes a suitable choice for maintaining energy levels and supporting physical endurance.

Health Benefits of Potatoes

Various varieties of potatoes, particularly those with different hues, are higher in nutrients and so better for you. Antioxidants are generally found in potatoes that are deeper in color. Sweet potatoes are a good source of vitamin A, which is necessary for healthy eyes and immunity. Anthocyanins, which are abundant in purple potatoes and may prevent cancer and heart disease, also improve brain function.

  • Supports Heart Health 

Potatoes contain potassium and fibre, which contribute to heart health by helping to regulate blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Consuming potassium-rich foods like potatoes may reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease.

  • Promotes Gut Health 

The fibre content in potatoes supports digestive health by promoting regular bowel movements and feeding beneficial gut bacteria. This can reduce the risk of gastrointestinal disorders and improve overall digestive function. 

  • Versatile Cooking Options for Healthier Choices 

Potatoes can be prepared in various ways that cater to different dietary preferences and health goals. Baking, steaming, or boiling potatoes with minimal added fats can retain their nutritional benefits while reducing calorie intake.

  • Contain Antioxidants

Compounds such as flavonoids, carotenoids, and phenolic acids are abundant in potatoes. These substances work as antioxidants in the body by scavenging free radicals, which are potentially hazardous chemicals. The risk of chronic illnesses including cancer, diabetes, and heart disease might rise when free radicals build up. For instance, a research study in Preventive Nutrition and Food Science conducted in test tubes showed that the antioxidants in potatoes may inhibit the formation of cancer cells in the liver and colon.  Additionally, the same research has shown that potatoes with color, such as purple potatoes, might contain three to four times as much antioxidant content as white potatoes. They may therefore be more successful in scavenging free radicals. 

  • May Improve Blood Sugar Control

Potatoes contain a unique starch known as resistant starch, which bypasses digestion in the small intestine and instead reaches the large intestine intact, where it serves as a nutrient source for beneficial gut bacteria. Research from Medicine (Baltimore) published in 2015 suggests that resistant starch offers various health benefits, including improved insulin sensitivity and better blood sugar control. Animal studies published in 2017 in Microbiome research paper have shown that diets rich in resistant starch can reduce insulin resistance, enhancing the body's ability to manage blood sugar levels effectively. In humans, consuming meals with resistant starch has been linked to improved post-meal blood sugar clearance, particularly beneficial for individuals with type 2 diabetes. For instance, a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition involving ten participants consuming 30 grams of resistant starch daily over four weeks demonstrated a significant 33% reduction in insulin resistance. Interestingly, the resistant starch content of potatoes can be increased by refrigerating boiled potatoes overnight and consuming them cold, thereby optimising their health benefits.

Potatoes are not just a humble vegetable but a nutritional powerhouse that offers a range of health benefits and culinary possibilities. Whether mashed, roasted, or in salads, potatoes provide essential nutrients, fibre, and energy to support a balanced diet and overall well-being.