Power Up With Potatoes

April 03, 2012

Potatoes are a staple in the standard American diet - find out how to include potatoes of all different varieties in your diet in a healthful way

Splendid spuds? Yes were talkin’ Yukon gold, russet, fingerling, long white, red, yellow, nordland and more!

Potatoes were the main staple of indigenous populations in the Andean region of South America for centuries. The Spanish conquistadors brought potatoes with them back to Europe, along with tons of gold and silver. Most noteworthy, they discovered eating potatoes prevented scurvy; a vitamin C deficiency that leads to depression, pale skin and sores. Scurvy was common among those who were aboard ships longer than perishable fruits and vegetables could be stored - subsisting instead mostly on cured and salted meats, and dried grains. Potatoes ended up being true lifesavers for those on long journeys at sea.

The commonly held perception regarding potatoes as unhealthy is not exactly true. Their health promoting properties are mostly overshadowed by the high consumption of fried versions; therefore excluding French fries and chips, potatoes are highly nutritious and available just about everywhere!

Potatoes contain all twenty-two amino acids (the building blocks of proteins), therefore forming complete proteins after digestion. Potatoes are a great source of potassium, (more than bananas), and are rich in other minerals including copper, manganese, and tryptophan. They are also rich in vitamin C and B6.

Some potato varieties phenolic levels rival those of broccoli and spinach. Others contain high amounts of folic acid, quercetin, phytonutrients, and antioxidants.

Savor the skins
Some say the skins are poisonous, even though they contain a high concentration of the potatoes’ nutrients. The poison is inherent in the potato’s leaves and stems to ward off foraging animals and insects, it consists of the alkaloid solanine. Potatoes should not be consumed if part of their skin has turned green or sprouts have begun to form. Otherwise, eating skins is recommended.

Shopping for potatoes
Choose potatoes that are firm, well shaped and relatively smooth. Potatoes are on the Environmental Working Group’s “dirty dozen” list and are therefore SupermarketGuru suggest you purchase organic potatoes, as conventional potatoes are often sprayed with synthetic pesticides.

Keeping potatoes in a cool, dark dry place is important to prevent green skin or sprouts from forming. Do not store potatoes in the refrigerator; it can cause the potato starch to become sugar and develop an off taste.