Potatoes are one of most versatile vegetable from nightshade family and cheapest universal crop produced all over the world and are available all year round. Potatoes are used widely as a staple dietary food in national and international cuisine to add variety of flavors in food.
However, Potatoes are often considered as a comfort food. In regards to its nutrition benefits, it has earned a bad reputation that it is starchy food and should be cut out of diet altogether. In fact potatoes are naturally gluten-free and are loaded with variety of nutrients and phytochemicals that can ward of disease and benefit our health. Most food that lacks color also lacks necessary nutrients, but potato is an exception.
Nutritional Profile Of Potato:
Potatoes are not just a starchy vegetable; it is an excellent storehouse of nutrition and energy. An important addition to a healthy diet, one medium-sized skin-on potato contains around 164 calories, no fat, cholesterol or sodium. They are loaded with essential vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients and antioxidants. One medium sized potato contains nearly half of your daily value of vitamin C along with vitamin A, B and P. it contains more potassium than a banana and 30 % of the recommended daily value of vitamin B6.
Eating potato with skin can also provide significant amount of magnesium, calcium, iron, phosphorus, folate, choline and zinc and 4.7 gram of dietary fiber. Potatoes are high in water content (About 70-80% of their weight). So the myth that you become fat by eating potatoes is a misconception. Of course you are bound to gain-weight, when you eat high fat, high cholesterol, processed French fries, potato chips loaded with sodium, oil and butter etc.
Health Benefits Of Consuming Potatoes:
1. Potatoes Improve Digestion:
Being a high carbohydrate food, potatoes are digested easily and facilitate digestion. The high fiber content increases secretion of gastric juices, prevents constipation, helps maintain a healthy digestive tract and reduces risk of many health issues related to digestive health. Since it is easily digested and provides energy, it is a great choice for patients, babies and elderly people .
2. Control Blood Pressure:
Potassium is a mineral known to be essential for maintaining healthy blood pressure. While bananas are known for their high potassium content, very few people know that a regular backed potato contains more than twice of potassium. Since potassium has vasodilation effect, increasing potassium intake may help to lower blood pressure.
Along with potassium, calcium and magnesium contained in potato have been found beneficial in lowering blood pressure naturally. The best way to eat potato for lowering blood pressure is to bake it with skin on .
3. Bone Health:
Maintaining bone health needs a combination of nutrients, the iron, magnesium, calcium, phosphorous, manganese and zinc contained in potatoes works together to build and maintain bone strength and structure. Manages prevents bone loss; zinc and iron plays crucial role in production and development of collagen. Phosphorus and calcium is needed for bone mineralization .
4. Reduce risk of Cardiovascular Disease:
Potatoes contain wide range of phytochemicals many of these flavonoid works actively to lower the level of LDL cholesterol and there by keeping the arteries free of fat lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease. Fiber, vitamin B-6, potassium and vitamin C all these nutrients all support heart health .
5. Relieves Inflammation:
Nutrients like vitamin C, Vitamin B6, manganese contained in potato works effectively in reducing inflammation. The vitamin C which is good antioxidant repairs wear and tear of the tissues, potassium and vitamin B6 are helpful in relieving any inflammation associated with digestive tract. Its anti-inflammatory effect can even benefit those who suffer from gout and arthritis.
But moderation is the key, since it can cause weight gain. Choline present in potatoes is a versatile nutrient that helps with number of bodily functions like muscle movement, transmission of nerve impulses, maintaining the structure of the cellular membranes assists in absorption of fat and also reduces chronic inflammation. To get relief from external inflammation, rubbing raw potato can be a great remedy .
6. Cut Cancer Risk:
Some researchers have shown that potatoes contain phytochemicals such as phenolic, flavonoids and carotenoids which protects the cells against free radical damage and reduce the risk of developing cancer. The abundance of vitamin C and a compound known as quercetin which has anti-cancer properties and its rich fiber content can also provide protection against developing colon cancer .
7. Boosts Immunity:
Potatoes are high in vitamin C which has been found to have antimicrobial activities. Vitamin C, zinc and other minerals contained in potatoes have been found to strengthen the immune system and protect against common cold and other seasonal infections .
8. Boosts Brain Function:
Potatoes are high in vitamin B6, a nutrient that plays crucial role in our nervous system which particularly involves certain neurological activity (brain cells). Not just vitamin B6, potatoes contain various components that aids in proper functioning of the brain. Being high in carbohydrates, it help to maintain proper glucose level in our blood; the vitamins and minerals like B complex, iron, zinc and phosphorus, potassium ensures proper oxygen supply to the brain. The wide variety of nutrients contained in potato positively affects the brain function and helps keep it cognitive function and performance high by stimulating blood flow .
9. Provides Cardiovascular Protection:
Besides containing Complex vitamin and vitamin C, minerals and fiber, potatoes contain compounds like carotenoids which are essential for optimal performance of internal organ and heart. But potatoes should be consumed in moderation as it raises the glucose level in your blood, excessive consumption can increase the chances of obesity and put load on your heart. Mindful eating is necessary. If you are obese, diabetic or suffering from heart disease, avoid eating potatoes .
10. Skin Care:
Vitamin C is an essential nutrient needed for collagen production-the skin’s support system. Enhanced collagen production inhibits formation of wrinkles, fine lines and age spots and improves skin texture. The antioxidant in vitamin C protects our skin from sun damage, pollution, smoke etc. abundance of minerals like potassium, magnesium, zinc and phosphorus and water content also contributes to skin health. Potato juice or crushed pulp is often used as an excellent skin care remedy for pimples, dark spots, skin whitening, burns etc .
Occasionally enjoying fried potatoes will not make you a potato couch, but you should try to minimize the consumption of processed ones, as 75% of vitamin C is lost while frying. Baking and steaming and roasting are good options to eat them.