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Benefits Of Potatoes And The Healthiest Way To Cook Them

One of the most versatile vegetables, potatoes are loaded with vitamins, fibre, and other essential nutrients. In addition, potatoes contain a certain type of starch called resistant starch that acts like soluble fibre, helping you feel full and eat fewer calories. Nutritionists point out that eating boiled potatoes is one of the best ways to fill your stomach without worrying about weight gain [1].

From fries to mashed potatoes, the varieties of foods made from this root vegetable are endless. But which is the best and healthy way to eat potatoes out of those? Let's take a look.

What Is The Healthiest Way To Eat Potatoes?

When prepared correctly, potatoes are a very healthy part of a balanced diet. Unfortunately, some popular potato preparations make them increasingly unhealthier than their original state [2].

Minerals, proteins, and fibre found in potatoes are generally well retained after cooking. However, vitamins C and B6 are significantly reduced after cooking. At the same time, carotenoids and anthocyanins show greater recovery after cooking because their antioxidant activity is enhanced [3].

Health Benefits Of Potatoes

Before we explore the best way to eat potatoes, let's take a look at the health benefits of potatoes. First, potatoes are low in calories - a medium baked potato contains only 110 calories. Besides vitamin C and B6, they contain manganese, phosphorus, niacin, and pantothenic acid [4].

The USDA reports that potatoes are loaded with phytonutrients, organic components of plants believed to promote health. Caffeic acid, flavonoids, and carotenoids are among the phytonutrients in potatoes [5].

The antioxidant vitamin C is also found in potatoes. According to studies, these substances may prevent or delay some types of cell damage. Additionally, they may enhance digestion, heart health, blood pressure, and even cancer prevention.

Among other things, potatoes prevent the accumulation of free radicals that may increase the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Purple potatoes, for example, may contain up to four times as many antioxidants as white potatoes and are thus more effective at neutralising free radicals than white potatoes.

So, what really is the healthiest way to eat potatoes?

There are few foods as filling as potatoes and can be prepared in many healthy ways, including boiling, steaming, and baking [6]. Frying potatoes, however, is not the best method of cooking them as it may increase their calorie content drastically because of the amount of oil it comes in contact with. Nevertheless, when eaten properly, potatoes can help curb hunger pangs and cravings, helping you lose weight [7].

The best way to eat a potato is in its whole, unprocessed form. And the healthiest way to prepare a potato is by baking, as microwaving causes the least loss of nutrients [8].

Steaming is the next-healthiest way to cook a potato since it causes less nutrient loss than boiling. However, a peeled potato cooked in this way loses significant amounts of nutrients as the water-soluble nutrients leach out into the water.

Here are some healthy ways in which you can cook potatoes:

  • Boil potatoes with skin: Boiling potatoes without skin can reduce their nutritional content, like vitamin C and B vitamins, so boiling them with skin will conserve nutrients lost in the cooking water; use as little water as possible to steam [9].
  • Bake potatoes with skin: It is one of the healthiest ways to cook potatoes. Whole and baked potatoes with skin on is the purest form as this process can minimise loss of nutrients.
  • Eat different potatoes (white/orange/purple): It may help you obtain a variety of antioxidants. For example, mix white sweet potatoes with orange sweet potatoes and purple sweet potatoes to boost the same phytochemicals found in blueberries and grapes.

What to add and what not to:

  • Ghee, unhealthy oils, butter, cream, cheese, and artificial flavours should not be added in high amounts.
  • For baking potatoes, use healthy oils like olive oil and season with fresh or dried herbs. Avoid using only salt.

To eat them in a healthy form, avoid eating fried potatoes, highly processed potatoes, and potatoes with high-calorie condiments. Potatoes are best consumed in moderation. A medium potato contains 164 calories and 30 per cent of the recommended daily B6 intake [10]. According to a recent study, women shouldn't eat them more than three times a week; otherwise, they may increase their risk of developing high blood pressure [11][12].

On A Final Note...

Dieticians do not recommend a diet high in potato consumption. It is nearly impossible to get all 20 essential amino acids and 30 vitamins and minerals from one food. However, you can get closer by mixing white and sweet potatoes. Keep in mind that your health would suffer if you ate nothing but potatoes.

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