Potatoes – Hero or Villain?

cupped hands holding small potatoes
Photo by R Khalil

What’s the deal with potatoes?

For so long, potatoes were advertised as a healthy vegetable and then, all of a sudden, we started hearing, “a potato is not a vegetable” and “potatoes are making you fat”.

So what’s the deal? Are potatoes good for you or not?

Here is the truth:

Potatoes are what is called a “starchy vegetable”. Starches are a type of Carbohydrate similar to foods like flour and sugar, which is a large part of this vegetable’s bad reputation. However, when prepared with nutrition in mind, potatoes can be a healthy addition to your list of veggies!

three potatoes with blossom

A medium-sized white potato with skin contains:

  • About 110 Calories
  • More potassium than a banana
  • Almost half of your daily value of Vitamin C
  • Fiber, Magnesium, B6, and antioxidants

With all of these nutrients, why do potatoes receive so much criticism? Well, it’s because we have turned them into a junk food. Think deep-fried french fries, buttery hash browns, salty curly fries, poutine smothered with curds and gravy, and greasy potato chips. I’m sure you can think of more examples of how the food industry has vilified this humble veggie.

fast food boxes with french fries
Photo by Digital Buggu from Pexels

The key is in the preparation. Mashed potatoes can be made with small amounts of butter and milk. Fries can be baked in the oven with a thin coating of olive oil. Even potato chips can be made using a dehydrator instead of a deep-fryer.

Another thing that separates potatoes from a traditional vegetable is that potatoes can not be eaten raw. Well… technically speaking, they CAN be eaten raw, but the resistant starches aren’t digested well until they’ve been cooked and have gone through the process of gelation, and can cause indigestion and stomach cramps. Gelation is the same process that grains and oats go through when they are cooked and processed.

market with wooden crates of fresh produce

So, does a potato count as a vegetable? Yes! …if it is prepared in a healthy way. If it is deep-fried or covered in cheese, count it as a regular Carb or a junk food.

What is your favorite healthy potato recipe? …Or do you avoid them altogether? Comment below!

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