So many people rely on potatoes as their staple food. Eating potatoes has been associated with several benefits on your health, including providing nutrients and antioxidants.
Potatoes grow under the ground on the roots of a plant scientifically called Solanum tuberosum. This delicious and nutritious vegetable has recently lost its fame in health-conscious people because it has a high carbs content. However, potatoes still remain on the list of foods with impressive health benefits. It contains fiber, phytochemicals, vitamins, and minerals, which may help keep you healthy and prevent diseases. For example, in the United States, an average person is estimated to consume up to 25 kg of potatoes annually. This makes it a valued staple food and the biggest vegetable crop globally. Keep reading to learn how consuming potatoes may benefit your health.
1. Provides Beneficial Nutrients
Although potatoes contain high carbs, they are a great source of important nutrients, including vitamins and minerals. Medium baked potato weighing 173 g contains 161 calories, 0.2 g of fat, 4.3 g of protein, 36.6 g of carbs, 3.8 g of fiber, 28% of the recommended daily value (RDV) for vitamin C, 27% of the RDV for vitamin B6, 26% of the RDV for potassium, 19% of the RDV for manganese, 12% of the RDV for magnesium, 12% of the RDV for phosphorus, 12% of the RDV for niacin, and 12% of the RDV for folate.
It is worth noting that the nutritional profile of potatoes may greatly vary depending on the mode of preparation and the variety of the potato. For instance, fried potatoes have more fat and calories than baked potatoes. Additionally, peeling potatoes strips them of vitamins and minerals.
2. Contains Powerful Antioxidants
Antioxidants are stable compounds found in most plants that help fight free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules produced by the cells during metabolism. When they accumulate and outnumber antioxidants, a harmful state of oxidative stress sets in. fortunately, potatoes contain powerful compounds like phenolic acids, flavonoids, and carotenoids. By acting as antioxidants in your body, they help combat the effects of oxidative stress like increased risk of type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer, and heart disease. Although animal studies have promising results, more human-based studies need to be conducted to attest to these claims.
3. May Help Control Blood Sugar
Poor or faulty blood sugar control mechanisms can cause severe health problems. Potatoes are a great source of starch, specifically resistant starch. This type of starch usually escapes digestion in the upper digestive system and is not fully absorbed from the digestive tract. Instead, it gets to the large intestines, where it’s fermented and fed on by the good gut bacteria. Published studies suggest that resistant starch may increase insulin sensitivity, thereby helping control blood sugar.
Consuming meals with resistant starch by diabetic people may help eliminate excess blood sugar, which usually increases after a meal. Scientists strongly believe that resistant starch may help increase insulin sensitivity by 33%. As a way of increasing resistant starch content in potatoes, you can boil, store them in a fridge overnight and enjoy them cold the following day.
4. May Improve and Maintain Digestive Health
Constipation, inflammatory bowel inflammation, bloating, abdominal cramping, and diarrhea are common digestive problems partly caused by bad and unhealthy foods. Resistant starch in potatoes may help improve and maintain digestive health. While it is in the large intestines, resistant starch acts as food for good gut bacteria. These bacteria ferment, digest, and convert resistant starch into short-chain fatty acids. Potatoes provide resistant starch, mostly turned into butyrate – a type of short-chain fatty acid fed on by the good gut bacteria.
Published studies indicate that butyrate may also reduce inflammation in the large intestines, boost the large intestine’s defenses, and lower the risk of colorectal cancer. What’s more, butyrate may also be used to manage inflammatory bowel disorders like diverticulitis, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis. However, these claims are only based on animal studies calling for more human-based research in this regard.
5. Contains Virtually Nil Gluten (Gluten-free)
Many people have become followers and rely on the popular gluten-free diet. This type of diet typically involves the elimination of foods containing gluten like wheat, rye, barley, and spelt. Although the largest global population has no problem with gluten, people living with celiac disease may experience severe abdominal discomfort when they ingest foods containing gluten. They may present with bloating, abdominal cramping, diarrhea, constipation, and skin rashes. You may want to include potatoes in your gluten-free diet as they are naturally gluten-free, meaning that they won’t stimulate uncomfortable symptoms. It is worth noting that many potato recipes in restaurants are not gluten-free, and it will be best if you read the entire list of ingredients before placing your order.
6. They Are Highly Filling
Aside from being delicious and nutritious, potatoes are highly filling. After feeding on 38 different foods, participants gave potatoes the highest-ranking and rating after being asked to rate those foods on how filling they were. Published studies indicate that most filling foods may help you lose weight by reducing hunger pangs. The effects of reduced appetite and hunger placed by potatoes are a result of the increased release of cholecystokinin (CCK). This is a hormone that increases the feelings of fullness. The release of CCK is stimulated by a potato protein called potato proteinase inhibitor 2(PI2).
7. Can Be Prepared In Many Ways
Besides providing all the mentioned health benefits, they also are incredibly versatile. You can prepare potatoes in your preferred way, and they will still be delicious. They can be boiled, steamed, fried, or baked. However, frying them will only increase calorie content which is not good for you.
Potatoes are root vegetables widely grown and eaten by many globally and are relied on as a staple food. They contain beneficial nutrients like vitamins and minerals. Antioxidants in potatoes may help prevent heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer. Potatoes can be enjoyed fried, baked, boiled, or steamed. You may need to avoid frying potatoes as this increases calories in them.