Potatoes are one of the world’s most basic and popular food. The root crop originated from the highlands of South America grown by the Inca.
Later brought to Europe in a luggage of the Spanish conqueror and explorer Pizarro in 1526.
It was first treated as an ornamental plant because it was considered toxic, inedible and thought to spoil people’s stomach.
They didn’t realize they were eating the incorrect part of the plant which were the leaves and stems.
During the great famine after the Seven Year War, the reputation of potatoes was redeemed. They began to be cultivated in Europe. Major countries like France, Switzerland, Germany, Spain, Italy, Poland are now major potato growers.
Today, potatoes still receive a lot of criticisms from various dietitians, nutritionists and trainers. Though believed to contain complex carbohydrates and fibers, potatoes also contain valuable vitamins and antioxidants.
Packed Power Food
Potatoes are a crop that many countries have depended on as their only source of calories.
Other than vitamins, potatoes are full of high-quality protein, minerals like magnesium, plus lots of energizing carbohydrates.
They contain fibers, and a lot of starch that don’t break down. The glycemic index of potatoes is slightly higher than pasta, which is a measure of how much carbs affect blood sugar.
Depending on the body’s chemical structure, digestion of carbohydrates varies. Whether whole grains or as flour, treated with heat or not; these play a role in how carbs are broken down.
Simple, Happy Food
Despite being a basic food crop, potatoes provide a good sense of satiety and energy for a long time.
Potatoes produce the most calories per liter of water and can be grown in poor soils and cold, barren areas. And no other crop provides so many calories so quickly on such a small surface.
Furthermore, research studies have found that potatoes can improve mood because of the substance it contains called serotonin.
Potatoes’ Nutritional Value (per 100g)
- about 80 g of water
- 17.6 g of carbohydrates
- 2.1 g protein
- 0.1 g fat
- 7 mg calcium
- 0.6 mg iron
- 53 mg phosphorus
- 76 kcal of energy
*250g of potatoes as a percentage of the recommended daily intake (RDI)
- 2.3% calcium
- 7.8% protein
- 10.4% energy
- 11.1% iron (women’s RDI)
- 20.0% iron (men”s RDI)
- 34.4% ascorbic acid
** Potatoes are 99.9% fat-free.
10 Benefits of Potatoes
Because of the vitamins and nutrients potatoes contain, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization has decided to highlight the importance of potatoes and promote both production and consumption worldwide.
They hoped that more small farmers in developing countries will start growing potatoes as a protection against roaring food prices.
Here are some other benefits potatoes provide:
Potatoes are an excellent source of carbohydrates that make you feel comfortable with everyday life activities and exercise.
Most of the carbohydrates consumed daily are broken down into the body to the glucose level.
Glucose is then stored in the liver and muscles in the form of glycogen and acts as available energy for physical activity and brain function.
| Related: 7 Ways to Keep the Brain Healthy as You Age
When you need to do a lot of training or maintain your weight, potatoes are convenient exercise food.
They are available year-round, affordable and can be prepared in many ways.
Potatoes are easy to grow and maintain. This food provides a lot of nutrition and saturation compared to meat.
Potatoes are gluten-free and can easily be digested. It is suitable for sensitive stomachs and it minimizes stomach problems.
5Good brain fuel.
In today’s standards, people choose to remove potatoes from their diet to eliminate rapid carbohydrates.
It is true that root vegetables like potatoes, are generally rich in carbohydrates, but keep in mind that the brain needs about 100 grams of glucose per day to work.
Potatoes contain a lot of fiber and water, when combined with other vegetables and protein they’re perfect for diet planning.
7Low calorie content.
Potatoes are 99.9% fat-free, nutritious and provides a lot of energy.
8Rich in iron.
Iron is important for keeping the energy level up during training because iron transports oxygen from the lungs to the body’s tissues.
Potatoes cover 11.1% of the daily iron requirement for women and 20% for men.
9Rich in vitamin C.
A portion of cooked potatoes covers 20% of the daily requirement of vitamin C, an antioxidant that helps protect the cells from oxidative stress.
During intense training, vitamin C helps the immune system function normally.
| Related: 12 Healthy Foods High in Antioxidants
Whether cooked, mashed, steamed, deep-fried, oven-baked, juiced, potatoes are rich in fiber, calcium, iron, zinc, phosphorus, antioxidants and B-vitamins; especially the skin. It gives character and good taste to the dishes.
A medium sized potato with potato peel has only 110 calories per serving but when cooked and combined with other ingredients, calorie intake may be higher.
This is where the bad reputation of potatoes often comes from.
To get maximum benefits of potatoes, make sure you:
- Choose low-fat butter or sour cream instead of margarine and regular sour cream.
- Avoid French fries or any kind of fried potatoes.
- Don’t use too much butter and sauce when making mashed potatoes.
- Avoid double-baked potatoes because these are filled with calories and fat from bacon, cheese, butter and sour cream.
- Use mustard for flavor. Mix your fresh steamed vegetables with potatoes and season with natural herbs and spices.
Potatoes are more versatile than you think even with the criticisms it’s gotten over the years. What do you think of potatoes now? Do you think including potatoes in your diet can be a game-changer?