Are potatoes good for you?

Here are two important facts about potatoes: They are extremely nutritious and you should probably reduce how often you eat them.

How can both data be true? “Potatoes are a major source of potassium, which is an essential mineral for heart health,” says Loneke Blackman Carr, PhD, assistant professor of nutrition at the University of Connecticut. A small potato (about 5 ounces) has 23% of the amount you should consume every day. You also get 26% of the recommended amount of vitamin B6 (key to neurological health), along with iron, vitamin C, magnesium, and fiber.

We eat more potatoes than any other vegetable, nearly 50 pounds a year per person. But that’s a concern because potatoes have a high glycemic index, which means they spike your blood sugar. Experts consider this to be the reason why some studies have found a link between potatoes and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes and excess weight, regardless of the way they are cooked.

However, the research is not consistent. For example in a 2019 study published in the journal PLOS One, researchers followed more than 400,000 people for 16 years and saw no difference in the risk of premature death from any cause between those who ate more potatoes and those who ate less.

What can a potato lover do? These tips will help you take advantage of all the benefits of potatoes and avoid the risks.

Think carbohydrates, not vegetables

Botanically speaking, potatoes are vegetables, but nutritionally their high starch content puts them in the carbohydrate category.

Potatoes should replace rice or bread in your meal, not other vegetables, says Michelle Cardel, PhD, assistant professor in the department of health outcomes and biomedical informatics at the University of Florida School of Medicine. The Department of Agriculture says that women over 50 should eat no more than 4 cups of starchy vegetables per week (for men, that’s 5 cups). In addition to potatoes, they include cassava, corn, peas, turnips, and bananas.

Make French Fries an “Occasional” Food

French fries tend to be higher in sodium and calories than non-fried potatoes. And in some studies, French fries posed a higher risk than potatoes overall.

More research is needed, but a 2017 study With people over 50, he found, for example, that those who ate French fries 2 or 3 times a week had a 95% increased risk of premature death from any cause; non-fried potatoes did not increase the risk. A 2019 analysis of 28 studies found that eating potato chips every day increased the risk of type 2 diabetes by 66% and high blood pressure by 37%. Eating potatoes prepared in other ways increased the risk of diabetes only slightly and hypertension not at all.

Baked potato chips can be a healthier bet. Cut the potatoes lengthwise and drizzle with olive oil and a little salt, then bake at 425 ° F for about 25 minutes. (For chips, slice horizontally and bake at 400 ° F for 25 minutes.) Or, prepare them in your air fryer.

Accompany them with good things

Too often we mash potatoes with cream and butter or stuff baked potatoes with sour cream, bacon, and cheese. That means excess calories and Saturated fats, which is bad for the health of your heart.

A tablespoon of butter, for example, provides more than 100 calories and 7 grams of saturated fat; a tablespoon of sour cream contains another 30 calories and 1.5 grams of saturated fat.

For a healthier option, cut a potato in half, drizzle with olive oil and rosemary, and bake at 400 ° F. Then, place it under the broiler for a few minutes until it browns on top, suggests Lisa R. Young, PhD, an adjunct professor of nutrition at New York University.

And you can lighten the mashed potatoes by swapping the cream and butter for yogurt low-fat natural greek. “It has a similar flavor and consistency, plus healthy protein and fat,” says Cardel.

Eat potatoes of all colors

White potatoes have antioxidants that help fight cell damage. But consuming a mixture of red, purple and yellow-fleshed potatoes will give you more variety (such as anthocyanins and carotenoids) than if you stick with just the typical potatoes (russets) regular.

Potato (fingerling) roasted with rosemary

These long, thin potatoes have smooth skin (so no need to peel) and won’t fall apart when cooked. This healthy recipe from CR’s test kitchens (pictured above) showcases its beautiful shape and delicate flavor.

1 pound fingerling potatoes, washed and cut lengthwise in half

1 shallot, peeled and quartered, leaves root intact

3 sprigs fresh rosemary, plus 1 tsp minced

2 butter spoons

1⁄8 teaspoon salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 cup low sodium chicken broth


1. Arrange potatoes in a single layer in large skillet. Add pieces of shallot and sprigs of rosemary between the potatoes.

2. Add 1 tablespoon of butter, salt and pepper; Pour the chicken broth over the potatoes.

3. Partially cover the skillet and bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are tender when chopped with a fork, about 20 to 25 minutes.

4. Remove the shallot chunks and rosemary sprigs. Using a slotted spoon, place the potatoes in a serving platter.

5. Turn the heat up to high and boil the remaining liquid for 2 minutes uncovered until slightly reduced. Add remaining tablespoon of butter and pour sauce over potatoes; Sprinkle with chopped rosemary. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings

Nutritional information per serving: 150 calories, 6 g fat, 3.5 g saturated fat, 21 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 1 g sugars (includes 0 g added sugars), 4 g protein, 220 mg sodium

Best air fryers from CR tests

With a air fryer you can cook crispy fries without all the oil. These 3 fryers, listed alphabetically, performed well in CR’s tests.

Consumer Reports is an independent, nonprofit organization that works side by side with consumers to create a fairer, safer, and healthier world. CR does not endorse products or services, and does not accept advertising. Copyright © 2021, Consumer Reports, Inc.

Consumer Reports has no financial relationship with the advertisers on this site. Consumer Reports is an independent nonprofit organization that works with consumers to create a just, safe, and healthy world. CR does not endorse products or services and does not accept advertising. Copyright © 2021, Consumer Reports, Inc.


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