It's OK to say 'yes' to potatoes

a pile of potatoes sitting on top of a dirt field
a pile of potatoes sitting on top of a dirt field

History of potatoe

Native to South America, potatoes are root vegetables and a dietary staple in many parts of the world. In recent years, low- or no-carb diets have become increasingly popular, leading people to avoid eating potatoes. However, potatoes can have a place in your meals, especially when prepared in a health-conscious way.

A tasty gift

It's believed potatoes were discovered about 1,800 years ago. They made their way to North America in the early 1600s when the governor of the Bahamas sent a potato as a gift to the governor of Virginia. But it wasn't until Thomas Jefferson served potatoes at the White House that they gained popularity.

The concern

And the rest, as they say, is history. By 2019, potatoes — in all their forms — were the most-consumed vegetable in the U.S. According to the Department of Agriculture, potatoes are most commonly eaten as potato chips at home and as french fries when eaten at restaurants.

How potatoes are prepared and what they're eaten with may be the real culprits in potatoes getting a bad reputation. It may seem like common sense, but eating a lot of fried foods like chips and french fries can lead to added calories and unhealthy weight gain. Also, people who eat large amounts of potatoes tend to consume more butter, red meat and sodas.

It's true that potatoes are high in starch or carbohydrates, the nutrients that cause spikes in blood sugar. But pairing them with foods high in protein, fiber and unsaturated fats can slow digestion and lead to a steadier release of glucose into the bloodstream.

Wealth of micronutrients

In addition to carbohydrates — a needed energy source for your body and brain — potatoes contain a wealth of micronutrients. They're a good source of vitamins, minerals and fiber. As a bonus, potatoes are low in calories, contain no fat or cholesterol, and are sodium-free. They're high in vitamin C and potassium and are a good source of vitamin B6. A medium potato, about 5.5 ounces, contains only 145 calories.

Saying "yes" to potatoes

Energy, micronutrients, versatility and just plain deliciousness make the case for potatoes to become part of a healthy diet. That's especially true when they're paired with foods high in protein and fiber and prepared in ways that capitalize on their zero-fat content.

As posted by Mayo Clinic on Friday, November 4, 2022