It’s National Potato Day and we wanted to dig deep to get a better understanding of the humble spud and its nutritional value (or lack thereof) in our diets.
Are Potatoes Vegetables?
First of all, are potatoes vegetables? The simple answer is yes. Potatoes are part of the nightshade family along with tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant.
The potato itself is considered the stem of the plant, unlike the sweet potato which is a root. In fact, the tuber or stem is the only edible part of the potato. The rest of the potato plant, including the leaves, flowers and small dark berries, are not edible. Even the sprouted eyes of a potato can be toxic, so once the skin is no longer smooth and the potato firm to the touch, it’s time to ditch it.
The USDA MyPlate food guide also identifies potatoes as a vegetable, although many nutritionists would argue that potatoes shouldn’t count toward your healthy daily veggie intake and really belong under the grain, bread, and pasta section of the plate.
Are Potatoes Healthy for You?
So, they’re technically vegetables, but are potatoes really healthy? Once again, the simple answer is yes. A medium potato with skin on is around 110 calories, fat-free and is a good source of nutrients, including more vitamin C than an orange and more potassium than a banana. It also contains 26 grams of carbohydrates, which may be a deal-breaker for anyone on a keto or low-carb diet, but accounts for only 10% or so of your daily carb intake if your goal is eating a more balanced diet.
As we’ve discussed before, not all carbs are created equal and nutrient-rich complex carbs like potatoes are a great option, especially for some pre-workout energy. This is because potatoes are higher on the glycemic index, meaning they cause a surge in your blood sugar levels, supplying a burst of energy, compared to lower GI foods which cause your body to absorb less sugar and do so more gradually.
This is why, at The Pickled Beet, we often substitute potatoes with other lower glycemic index carbs, including the sweet potato, as well as tropical starches like yuca or even plantains. We encourage consuming potatoes in moderation since most of us are not athletes and will end up storing that sugar as fat.
While it’s true that potatoes have a higher GI than rice and pasta, the main downside to potatoes is usually the way we prepare and eat them. Potatoes are typically heavily processed then fried, or mashed with lots of butter and cream. Even the health benefits of a simple baked potato are cancelled out once we drown them in a heavy dose of fat and salt.
For most of us, eating potatoes in moderation is fine, as long as we hold the butter and sour cream. Here’s a potato recipe we love that keeps all the flavor and nutrition but cuts down on the fat and calories:
Roasted Potatoes with Fresh Herbs
- 4 pound(s) Yukon Gold Potato (organic) unpeeled, cut into 6 wedges
- 1 cup(s) shallot (about 5 large) chopped
- 4 ounce(s) olive oil
- 1 tablespoon(s) kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon(s) pepper
- 6 tablespoon(s) parsley chopped, divided
- 4 teaspoon(s) thyme, fresh chopped
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Add potatoes to a large pot of boiling salted water.
Cook 6 minutes and drain.
Toss potatoes with shallots, oil, salt, and pepper in a large bowl to coat.
Lightly oil 2 rimmed baking sheets.
Divide potatoes between prepared baking sheets.
Roast 35 minutes.
Sprinkle 2 tablespoons parsley and 2 teaspoons thyme over potatoes on each sheet.
Using metal spatula, turn potatoes to coat.
Roast until brown and tender, about 20 minutes longer.
Transfer to a serving bowl, sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons parsley and serve.
The Pickled Beet customizes menus based on the individual needs of individuals, couples or families. Whether you love or loathe potatoes or any other food, just let us know and we will prepare and deliver delicious meals to your door that include only ingredients you love. Contact us for a free consultation.