Originating in South America, potatoes are now eaten across the globe, with over 1500 varieties of potato produced.
Potatoes vary in size, shape, colour, and nutrient content. Popular varieties of potatoes include fingerling, petite, purple/blue, red, russet, white and yellow.
Potatoes can be used in an array of dishes, and can be boiled, steamed, baked, roasted, or fried.
Most of the potato’s nutritional content is found in the skin, so peeling the potato reduces its health benefits.
Processed potato products, like hash browns or hot chips, lack nutrients and contain more calories, fat and sodium than a whole potato.
Potatoes contain carbohydrates, fibre, iron, potassium, manganese, vitamin C and B6, but the overall nutrient content of a potato will depend on the variety of potato and the cooking method.
Health concerns with potatoes
Weight: There are have been studies that have found linkages between consumption of potato types and potato products that lead to weight gain. However, when consumed in moderation, potatoes are unlikely to cause significant weight gain.
Diabetes and obesity: According to the experts at House Call Doctor, potatoes contain large amounts of simple carbohydrates which, when eaten in excess, is not good for those with diabetes or those who are obese.
Potassium: Large amounts of potassium can pose a serious risk to those with kidney damage as the kidney will have difficulty filtering the excess potassium.
The cooking method of potatoes greatly affects their nutrient content. It is best to boil, bake or steam potatoes to minimise fat and calorie contents.
Adding butter, sour cream, mayonnaise or dressings seriously reduces the nutritional content of potatoes, so it’s best to eat potatoes in their most natural form.
Eating potatoes in moderation and in their plainest form is the best way to enjoy the vegetable.