A high intake of fruits and vegetables can benefit health and reduce the risk of many lifestyle-related health conditions.
Potatoes contain important nutrients, even when cooked, that can benefit human health in various ways.
Here we look at 10 ways in which the potato might contribute to a healthful lifestyle, including preventing osteoporosis, maintaining heart health, and reducing the risk of infection.
1) Bone health
The iron, phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, and zinc in potatoes all help the body to build and maintain bone structure and strength.
Iron and zinc play crucial roles in the production and maturation of collagen.
Phosphorus and calcium are both important in bone structure, but it is essential to balance the two minerals for proper bone mineralization. Too much phosphorus and too little calcium result in bone loss and contribute to osteoporosis.
2) Blood pressure
A low sodium intake is essential for maintaining a healthy blood pressure, but increasing potassium intake may be just as important. Potassium encourages vasodilation, or the widening of the blood vessels.
According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), fewer than 2 percent of American adults meet the daily 4,700-milligram recommendation.
Potassium, calcium, and magnesium are all present in the potato. These have been found to decrease blood pressure naturally.
3) Heart health
The potato’s fiber, potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin B6 content, coupled with its lack of cholesterol, all support heart health.
Potatoes contain significant amounts of fiber. Fiber helps lower the total amount of cholesterol in the blood, thereby decreasing the risk of heart disease.
Research based on the NHANES has linked a higher intake of potassium and a lower intake of sodium to a reduced risk of all-cause mortality and heart disease.
Choline is an important and versatile nutrient that is present in potatoes. It helps with muscle movement, mood, learning, and memory.
It also assists in:
maintaining the structure of cellular membranes
transmitting nerve impulses
the absorption of fat
early brain development
One large potato contains 57 mg of choline. Adult males need 550 mg, and females 425 mg a day.
Potatoes contain folate. Folate plays a role in DNA synthesis and repair, and so it prevents many types of cancer cells from forming due to mutations in the DNA.
Fiber intake from fruits and vegetables like potatoes are associated with a lowered risk of colorectal cancer.
Vitamin C and quercetin also function as antioxidants, protecting cells against damage from free radicals.
6) Digestion and regularity
The fiber content in potatoes helps prevent constipation and promote regularity for a healthy digestive tract.
7) Weight management and satiety
Dietary fibers are commonly recognized as important factors in weight management and weight loss.
They act as “bulking agents” in the digestive system. They increase satiety and reduce appetite, so a person feels fuller for longer and is less likely to consume more calories.
Potatoes are a great source of vitamin B6. This plays a vital role in energy metabolism, by breaking down carbohydrates and proteins into glucose and amino acids. These smaller compounds are more easily utilized for energy within the body.
Collagen is the skin’s support system. Vitamin C works as an antioxidant to help prevent damage caused by the sun, pollution, and smoke. Vitamin C also helps collagen smooth wrinkles and improve overall skin texture.
Research has found that vitamin C may help reduce the severity and duration of a cold. Potatoes are a good source of vitamin C.
How healthful a potato is in the diet depends to some extent on what is added or how it is cooked. Oil, sour cream, and butter all add calories, but the plain potato itself is relatively low in calories.
It also provides important nutrients, such as vitamin C, vitamin B6, and various minerals.
A 100-gram (g) or 3.5- ounce serving is a little more than half of a medium size potato. This much white potato, baked with skin, contains:
0.15 grams of fat
0 grams of cholesterol
21.08 grams of carbohydrate
2.1 grams of dietary fiber
2.10 grams of protein
10 milligrams (mg) of calcium
0.64 mg of iron
27 mg of magnesium
75 mg of phosphorus
544 mg of potassium
12.6 mg of vitamin C
0.211 mg of vitamin B6
38 micrograms (mcg) of folate
Potatoes also provide niacin, choline, and zinc. Different varieties provide slightly different nutrients
Sodium: Whole, unprocessed potatoes contain very little sodium, only 10 mg per 100 g (3.5 ounces), or less than 1 percent of the suggested daily limit. However, this is not true of processed potato products, such as French fries and potato chips.
Alpha-lipoic acid: Potatoes also contain a compound known as alpha-lipoic acid (ALA), which helps the body to convert glucose into energy.
There are many types of potato to choose from, not including sweet potatoes. There are white, red, yellow, and blue varieties, and within each color, a range of options.
Here are some ideas:
Baking: Use starchy potatoes, such as russets.
Roasting, mashing, or baking: Use all-purpose potatoes, such as Yukon gold.
Potato salad: Waxy potatoes, such as red, new, or fingerling potatoes, keep their shape better.
Select potatoes that are firm, un-bruised, and relatively smooth and round. Avoid any that show signs of decay, including wet or dry rot, any roots or potatoes with a greenish hue.
It is best to buy potatoes that are unpackaged and unwashed, to avoid bacterial buildup. Washing potatoes early removes the protective coating from the skins.
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