Powerful Potato Health Benefits
The Almighty Potato
If I had to choose the one food that I absolutely couldn’t live without, it would be the potato. There are of course the year-round favorites which don’t help the waistline, such as potato chips and my big downfall, french fries. Summer brings good old potato salad. In the Winter, there is the aromatic, roasted potato. In the Spring there are those irresistible, decadent, scalloped potatoes. Here in the Fall, I like to enjoy my potatoes baked.
Now there are those who will tell you that potatoes aren’t good for you because they are a carbohydrate that has a high glycemic index. While that may be partially true, I also happen to like other foods that fall into this category, such as bananas, which have nutritional benefits that outweigh their high-glycemic classification. And as it turns out, potatoes have a lot more to offer than just a tasty, year-round side dish.
Potatoes contain no fat or cholesterol and minimal sodium. What they do have is about 5 grams of natural fiber in the skin of a medium-sized potato, and fiber is important to our bodies for digestion. Looking for long-term fulfillment? A six-ounce potato contains 2 grams of highly digestible protein, almost as much as half a glass of milk!
An average potato contains about 620 mg of potassium-that’s more than a banana. Potassium is essential to the body because of its role in attaining optimal muscle performance and improving the nerves’ response to stimulation. They also contain iron, which is essential in helping the body convert food to energy and can help the body resist infection.
Since potatoes spend their life underground, one would expect them to provide important minerals, including trace amounts of thiamin, riboflavin, folate, magnesium, phosphorous, iron and zinc. And because they absorb these minerals from their subterranean habitat, it’s advisable to consume organic potatoes that were not raised in an incubator surrounded by pesticides, because those harmful chemicals will also absorb into this magnificent tuber.
Potatoes are also a great source of vitamins, even supplying about 70 percent of the total daily value for vitamin C, which is essential to help maintain healthy connective tissue and heal wounds. They are also good sources of B vitamins, helping the body make healthy red blood cells and amino acids. Looking for a good way to eat your potatoes? Try this delicious Potato Leek Soup recipe.
One of my favorites on a cold, rainy night, Potato Leek Soup is surprisingly simple and clearly offers more to your body than just a warm, satisfying meal! There are many versions of this recipe, but mine happens to opt for low-fat techniques to keep the calories down and the nutrients intact.
- 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 2 leeks, sliced (an onion can be subsituted)
- 4 cups Yukon Gold potatoes (any variety will do), sliced into 1/4" rounds
- 6 cups Water or Chicken Broth
- Splash of milk
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- In a large pot over medium heat, cook leeks in olive oil until tender, stirring frequently (about 15 minutes).
- Add potatoes and water or broth until potatoes are just covered, bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender, around 20-30 minutes.
- Add a splash of milk, and season with salt and pepper.
- For added yumminess, try adding in a little sherry or brandy before serving with some crusty, whole grain bread.