The Skinny On Potatoes
Have you ever met someone that didn’t like potatoes? I haven’t. But I have met many people that say they don’t like vegetables. Well, I have news for them, a potato is a vegetable. Ready for more news? The innocent potato doesn’t make you fat.
Tara Tuesday Tips: Yes, You Can Eat Potatoes
I do feel sorry for the potato who has lost its popularity with the rise of the low-carb craze. Is this really necessary? Let’s see what you think after reading my tips:
- Is a potato really a vegetable? Yes, potatoes are in the class of ‘starchy vegetables’ along with corn and green peas. Potato crops are the biggest vegetable crop in the US and they are the most consumed vegetable by Americans. The USDA reports here that the average American consumes around 50 pounds per person per year! Sadly, they are mostly in the form of French fries in school cafeterias 🙁 .
- Let’s talk nutritional content:
- 110 calories
- Zero grams of fat, cholesterol, and sodium
- 3 grams of protein
- Excellent source of potassium (more than a banana)
- High in vitamin C, B6, magnesium
- 4 grams of fiber
- Antioxidants: Potatoes contain phytonutrients which have antioxidants in them that inhibit free radicals to prevent cancer cell growth (taste good and fight cancer, sounds good to me 🙂 )
- Keep you feeling full: Some people do research on potatoes and other people (like me) read it. Anyway, this study suggests that potatoes keep you feeling full for hours after eating compared to other carbohydrates (white pasta, breads, baked goods).
- Potatoes and diabetics: In many of my Tuesday Tips I talk about glycemic index. One reason diabetics shy away from potatoes is that they have a high glycemic index. This means that they cause your blood sugar to rise after you eat. However, we need to consider that when we eat things together, we get an average of all of the glycemic indexes together. So, even though a potato has a high glycemic index if you pair your potato with some olive oil and protein and veggies you are balancing out your meal and slow down that rise in blood sugar. So, yes, if you are diabetic you can enjoy an occasional potato but be careful what else you are eating with it, prepare it well, and watch your portion size.
- Spud swaps: How a potato is prepared is what gives it such a bad reputation. Drowning it in oil, frying it, covering it in saturated fats of cheese and butter turn a beautiful protein-rich potato into a calorie bomb.
- Baked potato: trade out butter, sour cream, bacon (of course) on top of baked potatoes for yogurt, broccoli, green onions, or our favorite is to top our potato with my homemade vegetarian chili.
- French fries: trade out deep fried or battered fries for oven roasted fries drizzled with spices and olive oil
- Mashed: trade out whole milk and butter when preparing mashed potatoes for vegetable broth, skim milk (if not vegan), onions, and even try drizzling in pesto. Need a recipe? Here you go!
- Athletes: Runners World considers the potato the perfect carb. I agree. Ounce for ounce potatoes give you a more energy than pasta making this a better carb-loading food than those noodles or spaghetti that we eat pre-long-run. Some endurance athletes even eat them during a run. The high vitamin A content makes them a perfect post-work-out snack to repair muscles and microtears. You can check out the full Runners World potato article here.
- Can you eat potatoes if you are trying to lose weight? I don’t believe in banning any food from a healthy diet (except meat, of course, or if you have allergies). If you ban a food you will start dreaming about it until you consume an entire grocery cart full of it. I’m exaggerating here but it is slightly true. Allow yourself to eat a potato now and then, it is ok. Actually, if you eat a baked potato topped with veggies you will feel full for a long period of time and may not consume as many calories overall because you will remain satiated with a decreased appetite. Remember, weight loss is all about calorie math. My Tuesday Tips about vegetarians and weight loss go into more detail.
- Money: I find this article fascinating as it discusses the impact that world-wide vegetarianism would have. Saving $250 billion sounds good to me so go buy some potatoes instead of that meat. Potatoes are cheap to buy especially when compared to meat. $4 for 5lbs of organic potatoes. Remember, potatoes are one of the dirty dozen so go organic. Need help choosing organic? Start here.
- MVP(T) (Most Valuable Potato Tips): Be careful with how a potato is prepared and the portion of your potato, buy organic, pair it with protein and healthy fats. You can eat and enjoy potatoes with these tips!
Do you love potatoes? Add some more potato tips below in the comments. Post your questions and I will answer.
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