The Nutritional Benefits of Potatoes

by Annette Welsford No Comments
Potato Recipe
Healthy Italian New Potato Salad
from our How to Cook Yummy
Potatoes ebook.

Forget the old adage that potatoes are fattening. Well they can be, depending largely on how they are cooked. But they are also jam-packed with nutrition. Apart from anything else, they are one of the very best sources of potassium and fibre, and can provide you with close to half the Vitamin C you should be consuming daily.

One of America's best known 20th century nutritionists, Adelle Davis warned in her incredibly successful book Let's Get Well (first published by George Allen & Unwin Ltd in the UK in 1966) that highly refined foods were impacting on people's health and causing disease. Apart from the effects of these foodstuffs, she tried to increase awareness of the dangers of not eating enough fresh vegetables – particularly potatoes and legumes – as well as whole-grain breads and cereals. 

Ms Davis was a pioneer in the field of nutrition who stated categorically that research showed "diseases of almost every variety can be produced by an under-supply of various combinations of nutrients". But, she said, if diet was corrected and all necessary nutrients supplied, the harmful effects could be reversed.

So what nutrients do potatoes offer? Here are some basic facts:

  •     First of all they don't contain any cholesterol.

  •     They are rich in carbohydrates which we all need for energy.
  •     Better still, they contain Vitamin B1 which enables the release of energy from carbohydrates.
  •     They also contain Vitamin B6 which is a very important nutrient to help maintain a healthy nervous system.
  •     They are low in calories – surprise!
  •     They are low in fat … unless you're going to reverse this and deep fry them.
  •     They contain plenty of fibre to help prevent constipation.
  •     They contain potassium which helps to prevent high blood pressure.
  •     They contain iron that is good for our blood.
  •     They've got folic acid that we need to make new cells and proteins, and also to help keep our blood healthy.
  •     They also contain magnesium, copper and zinc, all of which (along with calcium) help to build strong bones and teeth.
  •     Then there's the Vitamin C content which is also important for bones and teeth as well as our hair, skin and gums.

Right, so they really do have loads of nutrients. But what do we do to destroy these?

Since we don't eat potatoes raw, it's all in the cooking.

To quote one of our current British nutrition gurus, Patrick Holford: "Boiled potatoes are better than baked, which are in turn better than French fries". That's probably enough said, other than to warn that adding butter or worse still marg (which is a processed fat) to boiled or baked potatoes will also add their downside!

Our final tip – cooking your own home grown potatoes is even more rewarding as you know exactly how fresh  they are and you also know they don’t contain any nasty chemicals.

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