As part of Nutrition to Fit’s Frugal Food Favorites series, each week we highlight a favorite affordable food and all of its nutritional benefits, in addition to ways and recipes to include it in your life. This week is all about potatoes!
This week's frugal food is a little different, in that I don't think most people are lacking for white potatoes in their diet. Which is fine, because as you can see below, potatoes actually have a variety of nutrients and can definitely be included in a healthy diet. The problem is the way in which most people consume potatoes: fried (cooked in fat + excess salt), chips (cooked in fat + excess salt), mashed (which can be okay but are usually loaded with heavy cream, butter, etc.), or baked (again - fine, but not when it's smothered in cheese, sour cream, butter, bacon, etc.). Am I telling you to never again eat a French fry, chip, or loaded baked or mashed potatoes? Absolutely not! I'm just suggesting you try some of the other methods below to take advantage of some of the other nutritional benefits potatoes offer.
Resistant Starch + Digestive Health
Potatoes are not high in fiber, and are actually on the medium and high sides of the glycemic index (meaning how large an affect they have on your blood sugar after eating them). However, when you cool the potatoes after cooking and then consume (i.e. a cold potato salad), they have a higher amount of a fiber called resistant starch (1). This can improve blood sugar control (which can help make sure your blood sugar doesn't spike too high after consuming) and the resistant starch also works to feed friendly bacteria in the colon, improving digestive health (2).
Potatoes contain a variety of minerals that can help with heart health, as they may lower blood pressure. Potassium, which is the main mineral in potatoes, particularly can help. While research is always evolving, some randomized controlled trials and observational studies have shown a possible link between high potassium intake and reduced risk of hypertension and heart disease (3, 4, 5).
Weight Loss + Satiety
Bet you didn't think I'd talk about weight loss when talking about potatoes, did you? Again - I'm not talking about French fries or potato chips here! Studies have shown that potatoes are very filling, to the point that they will lead to increased fullness even longer after a meal (you won't be hungry to eat again soon) (6). One small study actually showed that eating boiled potatoes with pork actually led to less overall calorie intake during the meal, than when participants ate pork with pasta or white rice (7).
Potato Cooking Methods + Recipes
So, now that you see why I'm on team potato, what are some other ways you can consume potatoes to maintain some of these health benefits? Basically - avoid the fryer and cooking with excessive oil. So try baking, grilling, roasting, steaming, or boiling. I've compiled several recipes from other dietitians around the web below - check them out! If you have any favorite healthy potato recipes, please share in the comments!
Greek-Inspired Lemon Skillet Potatoes by Lindsey Janeiro, RDN at Nutrition to Fit
Grilled Hasselback Potatoes by Lindsey Janeiro, RDN at Nutrition to Fit
Twice Baked Potatoes by Lindsey Janeiro, RDN at Nutrition to Fit
Crock Pot Potato Soup by Jodi Danen, RD at Create Kids Club
Chicken Pot Pie by Jodi Danen, RD at Create Kids Club
Vichyssoise - Cold Potato and Leek Soup by Dixya Bhattarai, RD at Food, Pleasure, & Health
Samosa Bites by Dixya Bhattarai, RD at Food, Pleasure & Health
Potato, Lentil, and Beet Salad by Triad to Wellness
Hearty & Comforting Beef Stew by Chrissy Carroll, RD at Snacking in Sneakers
Red Lentil Dal with Asparagus with Perfect Roasted Potatoes by Meg Salvia, RD at Mostly Balanced
Potato, Black Bean and Pineapple Tacos by Sarah Pflugradt, RDN at Salubrious RD
Crispy Baked Smashed Potatoes by Dianna Sinni Dillon, RD at Chard in Charge
Sheet Pan Roasted Chicken Thighs and Root Vegetables by Maria Adams, RD at Halsa Nutrition