Potatoes For Health

The 2020 Dietary Guidelines provide Americans with important recommendations on food sources, along with essential vitamins and nutrients necessary for a healthy diet. A strong emphasis was made on reducing calorie consumption and increasing physical activity. Potatoes contain many of these essential nutrients that the dietary guidelines recommend Americans increase in their diet, including:

  • Potassium: One medium potato with skin provides 620 milligrams or 18% of the recommended daily value (DV) of potassium per serving and is considered one of the best foods with potassium. Potatoes rank highest for foods with potassium among the top 20 most frequently consumed raw vegetables and fruits*.
  • Vitamin C: Potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C (45% of the DV), which is more vitamin C than one medium tomato (40% DV) or sweet potato (30% DV).
  • Fiber:  One medium potato with the skin contributes 2 grams of fiber or 8% of the daily value per serving.
  • B6: Potatoes are a good source of vitamin B6 with one medium potato providing 10% of the recommended daily value.
  • Iron: One medium potato provides 6% of the recommended daily value of iron.
  • Magnesium: A medium potato provides 48 mg of magnesium and research indicates potatoes contribute 5% of the total magnesium intake in the diets of Americans.
  • Antioxidants: In addition to vitamins and minerals, potatoes also contain an assortment of phytochemicals with antioxidant potential, most notably carotenoids and anthocyanins (Brown et al. 2001, 2004).Anthocyanins are found in the greatest quantities in purple and red potatoes while carotenoids are found largely in yellow and red potatoes; although, small amounts are also found in white potatoes.

A common misconception is that all of the potato’s nutrients are found in the skin. While the skin does contain approximately half of the total dietary fiber, the majority (> 50 percent) of the nutrients are found within the potato itself. As is true for most vegetables, cooking does impact certain nutrients, particularly water-soluble vitamins and minerals, and nutrient loss is greatest when cooking involves water (boiling) and/or extended periods of time (baking). To maintain the most nutrition in a cooked potato, steaming and microwaving are best.

*Potatoes should not be consumed raw.  This is how potassium is measured by the FDA due to variances in potassium due to cooking methods.

Nutrition on a Budget

Fresh produce doesn’t have to break the budget, particularly when you count on potatoes. One serving–a medium, 5.3-ounce potato—will only set you back about $0.25. Pound for pound, potatoes continue to be one of the greatest values in the produce department. They have the highest score per dollar on providing potassium, fiber, protein, vitamins C and E, calcium, iron and magnesium.  Potatoes serve up essential vitamins and minerals, fiber, and antioxidants, are low in sodium and are fat- and cholesterol-free.
According to the USDA My Pyramid guidelines:
1 medium skin-on baked potato = 1 cup starchy vegetables
Colorado Potatoes: The Next Super Food?

Carbohydrates for Health

The 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends choosing fruits, vegetables and whole grains often, while staying within energy needs, for health. These foods, as well as dairy products, provide carbohydrate as well as protein. Some people hold the misconception that they need to cut down on carbohydrates to manage body weight. But mainstream science advises that excess calories are to blame for weight gain, regardless of what foods they come from. Those calories come from three sources: carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Fats contain the most — 9 calories per gram; protein and carbohydrates each contain 4 calories per gram. Depriving yourself of carbohydrate from vegetables, like potatoes, denies your body of essential nutrients. One medium-sized potato, for example, contains zero fat and cholesterol for a satisfying 110 calories. Eaten with the skin, the potato is an excellent source of vitamin C and a good source of potassium and vitamin B6.

Are Potatoes Healthy? Let’s look at the ABC’s of Potatoes

According to a National Eating Trends survey, potatoes are America’s favorite side dish, and that’s great news, America, because the potatoes you love are good for you, too. Here is you A to Z guide on potato nutrition:

  • Antioxidants. Potatoes contain antioxidants including Vitamin C, Carotenoids, and Anthocyanins. The amount and types are dependent upon the potato variety. So, make sure to include a number of different potato types (e.g., reds, purples, yellow, russets) in your diet.
  • Vitamin B: Potatoes are a good source of Vitamin B which is a nutrient that plays an important role in carbohydrate and protein metabolism. It helps turn the energy from food into energy your body can use.
  • Vitamin C: Potatoes are an excellent source of Vitamin C (45% of the DV), in fact they have more Vitamin C than one medium tomato (40% DV) or sweet potato (30% DV). Vitamin C plays a key role in the synthesis of collagen (important for healthy skin and gums) and may help support the body’s immune system.
  • Delicious. Potatoes are a blank canvas for hundreds of flavor combinations. Asian, Italian, American, German, Mediterranean…the possibilities are endless.
  • E—newsletter. Sign up today for a weekly potato recipe delivered to your email inbox each week: www.potatogoodness.com/e-weekly-recipe-email.
  • Fiber. One wholesome, satisfying potato with skin contributes 2 grams of fiber to the diet or 8% of the recommended daily value. Dietary fiber has been shown to have numerous health benefits, including improving blood lipid  levels, regulating blood glucose, and increasing satiety (makes you feel full longer), which may help with weight loss.
  • Gluten-Free. Potatoes are naturally gluten-free. An ideal substitution for some of your favorite bread, grain and pasta-based dishes, potatoes add a boost of nutritional benefits too.
  • Healthy. That’s right, potatoes can be part of a healthy diet. It’s the toppings that typically put spuds over the top in calories and fat. Try salsa, low-fat cheese and broccoli instead!
  • Glycemic Index. The GI of potatoes is highly variable depending on the variety, origin and preparation methods. Confused?  Don’t worry about it–both the 2010 and 2015 Dietary Guidelines committees  concluded  there is no evidence indicating the GI aids in weight loss or weight loss maintenance.
  • Just 110 Calories. A medium (5.3 ounce) potato with skin has just 110 calories. Keep them lean by simply roasting with olive oil, herbs and a pinch of salt.
  • K = Potassium (periodic table, anyone?). Research suggests diets high in potassium and low in sodium may reduce the risk of hypertension and stroke. Potatoes with skin are a good source of potassium.
  • Label. Look to the FDA-approved nutrition label for all of the facts on potato nutrition.
  • Magnesium. A medium potato provides 48 mg of magnesium and research indicates potatoes contribute 5% of the total magnesium intake in the diets of Americans. **
  • Nutrition Facts: One medium potato has no fat, sodium or cholesterol. Just check out the FDA-approved nutrition label!
  • OMG. Who doesn’t love the taste of potatoes?! Expand your passion for potatoes even further with new types, cooking preparations, and global spices.
  • Peel. The potato’s skin contains approximately half  the total dietary fiber, but the majority (> 50 percent) of the nutrients are found within the potato, itself.
  • Quick. Potatoes come in hundreds of shapes and sizes. Try the smaller varieties for a quick stove-top meal, and remember to use the microwave to speed the cook time of all your potato recipes.
  • Resistant Starch.  Resistant Starch (RS) is found naturally in potatoes and is a type of carbohydrate that is “resistant” to digestion by human digestive enzymes, just like dietary fiber. It also is believed to deliver similar health benefits to dietary fiber and has been shown in both human and animal studies to improve the health of the gastrointestinal tract and digestive system.
  • Types. Russets, reds, yellows, purples/blues, whites, fingerlings and petites. There’s a different type for every day of the week. Try them all!
  • USA. A vast majority of all potato farms in the U.S. are family owned. From California to the Carolinas, families just like yours work hard year-round to nurture, grow and deliver potatoes from their farm to your local market.
  • Vegetable. That’s right, folks. Potatoes are a vegetable.
  • Weight Management. Research shows potatoes (when prepared healthfully) can be part of a weight loss plan.**
  • Xcellent. Need we say more? Only two more letters to go and it’s pretty obvious potatoes are an excellent staple in our diet.
  • Yummy. According to consumers**, taste is everything. Tastes good and good for you? Potatoes are the superfood you’ve been dreaming about.
  • Zero. Did we mention zero fat, sodium or cholesterol?

*References to potato nutrient values are based on a medium, 5.3 oz potato with skin.

**All research references can be found in the Potato Nutrition Handbook. For more in-depth nutrition information visit our Nutrition Professionals pages

Potato Nutrition Facts

One Medium-Sized Potato Contains:

  • Just 110 calories
  • 30 percent of the recommended daily value for vitamin C
  • 620 mg of potassium – than bananas, spinach, or broccoli
  • 10 percent of the daily value of vitamin B6; and various other important
    vitamins and minerals, such as thiamin, riboflavin, folate, magnesium, phosphorous, iron,
    and zinc
  • Zero fat
  • Zero cholesterol
  • Zero gluten