NYS Certified Nutritionist

A Second Look at the Humble Potato

Too often, when people want to shed extra pounds, they eliminate carbohydrates- especially the white potato, thinking they offer little nutritional value.  Remember, when the potato crops failed in successive years in Ireland in the mid to late 19th century, people starved.  This human catastrophe is what led so many of the Irish to flee to this country, seeking nothing more than food for themselves and their families.  This means the humble potato had previously sustained life.  To this day, the white potato is the world’s third largest food crop, with rice and wheat taking first and second places.  It is time to take a second look at this valuable tuber.

Potatoes contain potassium in amounts similar to that in bananas.  Eaten with the skin, potatoes have a fair amount of fiber, and their protein content is like that of most starchy vegetables.  Contributing vitamin C and several B vitamins, magnesium, and anti-oxidants, potatoes pack a nutritional punch with only a trace of fat, and an average of under 100 calories each.  Avoiding butter, sour cream, and melted cheese will keep the calories in check, not to mention artery clogging fats.  Instead, top baked, boiled, or roasted potatoes with hummus, fat free Greek yogurt or sour cream, or low fat cottage cheese.  Unconventional toppings work well- like salsa, mustard, vegetarian chili, or creamed spinach.

Of course…French fries and potato chips are indulgences to be eaten rarely, if you want to control fats and calories.  Other than this caution, we would do well to remember to include potatoes in our well balanced menus.