Harness The Power Of The Spud

Despite being a historical super food (a major past player in the prevention of scurvy) potatoes have had a bad rap in recent years. The arrival of low carb diets such as Atkins and eating according to an often over simplified GI index have sent potatoes to the naughty corner. In terms of weight loss most people will cut out sugar followed by carbohydrates when in truth potatoes along with other forms of nutrient dense complex carbohydrates should form part of an overall healthful diet. Potatoes are certainly nutrient dense with Vitamin C, B6, Potassium, Manganese, Copper, niacin and folic acid to name a few.

Some Nutrient Facts

  • Potatoes contain powerful nutrients and antioxidants. The ORAC scale which measures antioxidant levels in 100g, weighs in a medium baked potato at 1,680. In comparison cooked carrots have a score of 317 and raw 666. As we can see potatoes compare very favourably to those vegetables we would traditionally think of as free radical fighters.
  • Potassium levels in potatoes are high. This vital mineral plays a key part in overall health, balancing your fluids and keeping your brain, nerves, heart, and muscles functioning normally on a constant basis. Potassium helps lower blood pressure and improves bone health. A medium baked potato with skin contains over 1000mg of potassium in comparison with a banana at 422mg.
  • Vitamin B6 in spuds is important for balancing your mood and preventing mental fatigue whilst Folic acid has been the subject of extensive studies that have shown its ability to prevent heart disease, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, type 2 diabetes and even some forms of cancer.
  • A medium baked potato with its skin provides you with 50% of your daily recommended dose of Vitamin C, 25mg.

The problem with potatoes is that we often eat them in a highly processed state as fries, chips and wedges or loaded with high calorie laden fats such as butter, cream and animal fats (with added salt). Try topping your potato with salsa, steamed veg and herbs or a tomato garlic and onion sauce with a dollop of low fat sour cream is also delicious.

If you are concerned about the GI index teaming your potato with meat, fish, chicken and peas will lower the number. Waxy potatoes are also better for you than the fluffy variety and the Vivaldi potato was grown as a butter less baker with a sweet taste and naturally creamy texture.

The best way to eat a potato is to bake it with the skin which you also eat (this holds 20% of the overall nutrients) Potatoes are actually low in calories and nutrient dense. You will feel fuller for longer after a baked potato, helping to prevent you reaching for a high fat or sugary snack.

To put it in perspective a 200g potato baked in its skin is 140 calories with 0.5g fat whilst the same spud made into chips has around 378 calories with 15g of fat – step away from the fries!

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