|Potatoes grown by David Janssen|
Like you, I grow potatoes in my backyard. Each year I will grow a different variety than the previous season so I am always mixing it up. Which varieties are the best for your health, and exactly how should they be implemented into a healthy eating plan?
I recently asked some industry leading dietician and nutritionists what home vegetable gardeners like yourself should be looking for when it comes to health and the types of potatoes you should be growing.
“Every potato has something of value,” says Caryl Ehrlich the author of Conquer Your Food Addiction. “The skin of the potato notoriously contains potassium but there are many vitamins and minerals within the potato as well. A yam is a wonderful source of Vitamin A and has good fiber, both necessary for good nutrition.”
Sharon Palmer, a registered dietician and author of The Plant-Powered Diet, goes onto say, “Some potatoes are higher in glycemic index; waxy potatoes seem to be lower in GI than the fluffy ones. In addition, purple potatoes are very high in anthocyanins, a powerful antioxidant. And sweet potatoes are high in carotenoids, powerful antioxidants linked with heart health. Including the skin increases the nutrient and fiber load.”
The consensus among the experts seems to be that you can’t go wrong growing any type of potato to add to your diet, and while some have benefits over others, it really comes down to how you prepare to eat your potatoes. Loading them up with high fatty cheeses, sour cream and the likes, increases the amount of unhealthy fats you take in and neutralizes any of the benefits that your home grown potatoes provide.
“Baking and steaming in jackets are the best way, to keep skin intact and maximum nutritional intake,” says Sharon. “I also recommend a home fried potato with skins and cooked in a very light amount of extra virgin olive oil.”
Given that potatoes are high in starch, I asked the experts if they should be paired with something on the dinner table to make digestion and absorption much easier for the body. Caryl’s opinion is, “a starch should not be eaten alone but rather with a dark vegetable (roasted or sauteed) or a small tossed salad, a nice combination of hot and cold.” Sharon seconds that sentiment adding, “Sweet potatoes taste great when paired with kale, collards, or any other dark leafy green.”
So how much should you limit your potato intake for a day? If it were up to me, I could eat potatoes all day, but of course the carbs would have me packing on the pounds faster than you can say Idaho Potato. “All portions should be 4 ounces,” says Sharon. “If a salad or vegetable is a melange (more than one . . a mix) then a handful on a flat plate. . Bowls are deceiving about the amount of food you're consuming. If the potato and the salad (or vegetable) are on flat plates, it encourages you to slow down while eating and to savour the foods being consumed.”
“Remember, the suggested portion size is ½ cup of cooked or half of a medium potato,” chimes in Caryl. “Most people eat far more than this. People are afraid of potatoes, but they are fine in moderation. You are better off including a range of other colorful veggies in your diet in addition to potatoes, but you don’t need to give them up altogether. Try to limit your selection to one serving a day so that you gain the benefits of a diet filled with a variety of foods.”
About the Author
Mike Podlesny is the author of Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person: A Guide to Vegetable Gardening for the rest of us. Be sure to join Mike`s vegetable seeds mailing list.
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