This Spud's for You: Why (and How) to Eat More Potatoes

By , Melissa Rudy, Health & Fitness Journalist
Mashed, baked, scalloped, fried: With so many ways to prepare and enjoy it, the potato is one of the world's most versatile foods—and perhaps one of the most underrated. In honor of Potato Lover's Month, brought to us by the Idaho Potato Commission, let's give this hardworking vegetable the attention it deserves.
 
The potato—along with the tomato, eggplant and pepper—is part of the nightshade (Solanaceae) family. If left unharvested, the buds will eventually grow into branches. Potatoes are grown in all 50 states and in 125 countries.
 
The potato has gotten a bit of a rotten rep in the wake of the recent low-carb craze, but its high nutrient and mineral content actually makes it a surprisingly healthy addition to any meal. When prepared in a sensible way, the starchy spud doesn't have to supersize your calorie intake: According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, an undressed potato has just 110 calories, 0 grams of fat and 1 gram of sugar.
 
In Favor of the Tater
 
How can potatoes improve your health? Let us count the ways:
  • Strong skeleton: The spud's high content of calcium, zinc, iron and magnesium helps to ensure strong, healthy bone structure and bone mineralization.
  • Heart health: Love potatoes? Your heart will thank you. The vegetable is high in fiber, which is a natural cholesterol regulator, and its potassium, vitamin C and vitamin B6 also contribute to improved heart health. (Side note: Did you know that potatoes have even more potassium than bananas? Potassium is an important mineral that helps lower blood pressure and keeps blood vessels from constricting.)
  • Cancer reduction: Potatoes fight cancer using their natural arsenal of fiber, vitamin C, quercetin and folate, the last of which is integral in stopping cancer cells from forming in the first place.
  • Mental health: The vitamin B-6 found in potatoes is instrumental in producing and regulating chemicals in the brain. A spud-rich diet could help to prevent anxiety, stress and depression.
  • Joint health:2011 study found that potatoes may help reduce inflammation and alleviate symptoms of arthritis.
  • Antioxidants: Potatoes are rich in antioxidants, which help to improve heart health, reduce cancer risk, decrease blood pressure and regulate digestion.
  • Weight management: It may be a carb, but it's a hard working one: The potato is also rich in vitamin B6, which helps boost metabolism by breaking down proteins and carbohydrates. Its fiber content also keeps you feeling fuller longer, so you'll be less likely to overeat.
  • Improved skin: Potatoes are chock full of vitamin C, which strengthens the skin's collagen, helps counteract damage and creates a smoother, more even texture. Additional skin-boosting nutrients include potassium, magnesium, phosphorous, zinc and vitamin B6.
Fun Potato Facts
 
Read on for some more fun facts from the Idaho Potato Museum.
  • According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the world's largest potato was grown in Great Britain, weighing in at 7 pounds and 1 ounce.
  • On average, each American eats 124 pounds of potatoes per year.
  • French fries were first served in the United States by Thomas Jefferson at a White House dinner.
  • A potato is made up of 80 percent water and 20 percent solids.
  • When stored in a dry, dark room between 45 and 50 degrees, potatoes last for up to three months.
  • Washing a potato shortens its life, as it strips away its protective layer. Only wash a spud immediately before preparing it to eat.
Our Favorite Potato Recipes
 
Looking for delicious and nutritious ways to include more taters in your diet? Check out some of our favorite ways to prepare the mighty potato.


 
















Baked Potato Soup
Get all the great taste of a loaded baked potato in a hot and hearty soup.




Celery and Potato Soup

When you're looking for a warm, hearty comfort food, this low-calorie yet savory soup doesn't disappoint.




Oven-Roasted Baby Red Potatoes

Try this crispy and tender alternative to traditional baked potatoes.



Cheesy Stuffed Potatoes
What do you get when you stuff a baked potato with seasoned cottage cheese? A lavish,low-fat, low-cholesterol, low-sodium treat.



Skinny Scalloped Sweet Potatoes
Sharp cheddar, lemony coriander and smoky cumin blend nicely in this low-cal version of a timeless classic.



Sweet Potato Chips

Prepare these in bulk and store in airtight bags, so you'll have a healthy option on hand next time you're craving a crispy snack.

 


Ground Beef and Potato Casserole

Potatoes, lean beef and cream of mushroom soup are the stars of this easy, yet fortifying dish.
 

 

Sweet and Spicy Potato Oven Fries

This healthy version of French fries offers all the crispy flavor, without the fat and grease.



Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes

Try this easy-breezy way to prepare delicious mashers for a large group.
 

 

Lite Fried Potatoes 

Brighten up any meal with this sweet yet simple recipe that's high on flavor, yet low on fat and calories.
 

 

Head to SparkRecipes for more delicious potato dishes.

What are your favorite ways to enjoy potatoes?

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Comments

ROBBIEY 8/24/2018
Theseare all grat ideas. Report
KITTYHAWK1949 8/16/2018
I love just plain baked potatoes (include skin). don't need any seasonings or addons. Just a few minutes in micro-wave and let it cook a bit. yum. Report
JULIENSMITH 2/9/2018
I agree that potatoes have gotten a bad reputation in the last 10 -20 yrs. Many regard them as another white processed food or as too carby. Glad to see that attitude is changing. They are delicious & healthy. Good article. Report
I love potatoes but need to eat them in their most freshes form. Yum Report
NANCYRUBIO2
Loved baked potatoes until I tried Sparks again. Now I know I can eat them with care on my toppings. Report
When we lived in Africa and I wanted to give our Family a treat; I bought potatoes. They were expensive (shipped from France or other European Countries) but always enjoyed. Other parents bought chocolate treats. Report
Wonder if this is why 5 # bags of Idaho Potatoes were given out at a festival today! Report
I'm descended from a long line of potato eaters. I don't even have to do anything special to them, just bake them. Never liked fries much which likely saved me from even greater weight gain. Report
BUDBUDDHA
Hooray for the potato! We just have to be careful with the fries and kugeli, but there are so many ways to make them in a healthy way. Report
I am a huge potato fan. I am surely going to try some of these... Thanks SP. Report
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