The humble potato gets a bad rap with regards to its nutritional value. Most people when looking to eat healthy and cook smart simply breeze right past the humble spud in the market. Why is this exactly? And are they right to do so?
Well, it could be many reasons. Perhaps that historically potatoes have been referred to as the ‘poor man’s food’; maybe it was the potato famine; or perhaps it is the dull, not so appealing colour of the poor potato. Likely, it mostly has to do with the fact that most consumers associate brightly coloured fruits and vegetables as the ‘healthy’ ones. Kale, beets, carrots, avocado, etc. – you get the idea.
Call it what you will though, potatoes are an excellent source vitamins and nutrients. They are packed full of minerals that play an essential role in maintaining a healthy functioning body and they also contain many disease fighting qualities. All in all, the potato, the dirty old spud, is quite the super vegetable and believe it or not, they are far healthier than most people know. They are a great option for a meal accompaniment not only because they are tasty, and super versatile, but also because they stand up well to heat. In that when fresh, they maintain their nutritional value even when being put in the hot spot.
Why Cook with Potatoes?
Well, besides the obvious – they are delicious – there is the health factor that cannot be overlooked when deciding whether or not you want to cook with potatoes. Potatoes are one of the more healthy vegetables that you can use to cook with. They are higher in potassium than bananas, packed full of vitamin B6, and they are flooded with magnesium. Not only that but potatoes have inherent cancer fighting abilities, in that they force healthy cells to communicate with and obstruct the growth of harmful cancerous cells. Potatoes also help to regulate the blood sugar and boost valuable enzymes throughout the body.
Additionally, potatoes are actually fairly low carb (significantly more so than rice and pasta), cooked – a potato contains only 26 calories and then there is the inherent weight loss capabilities associated with potato consumption. Potatoes help to ward off cardiovascular disease, they play an essential role in maintaining adequate gut health and they also help to reduce stress and balance mood. Overall, instead of the ‘poor man’s food’ they ought to be called the ‘super spud’.
It is important when cooking with potatoes that you buy local. Actually, this is important with any produce that you buy, cook and consume. This is because the longer that a fruit or vegetable sits before you consume it, the less nutritional benefit you gain from it. When you buy local you can be certain that only a mere matter of days have passed since the potato was pulled. Therefore it is likely still at its peak freshness and it will offer you the maximum nutritional benefit.
Buying local is the best way to ensure that you are receiving the healthiest spuds. Your body and your taste buds will thank you! The variety of the potato that you select will dictate the amount of vitamins and nutrients that our body will receive during consumption, as will the way in which you prepare the potato. For instance, cubing a potato prior to boiling it reduces the potassium by up to 75 percent! That being said, the best way to prepare a potato in order to get the maximum health benefit is to bake it, with the skin on, in the oven.