The Truth About the Bad Rap for Potatoes


Why Is There So Much Hate For Potatoes

It’s really unfortunate that potato myths are so prevalent.  The lowly white potato has been given a bad rap by many nutritionists. Because of this, people tend to think that this low-cost staple is nothing more than a source of cheap carbohydrates. But that simply isn’t true! The white potato is actually a nutrient-rich powerhouse that can even be part of a weight-loss diet.


An average medium potato, with the skin-on, only has 110 calories and provides more potassium (about 620 mg.) than a banana, tomato, spinach or broccoli. Potassium is a much-needed nutrient, which can help lower blood pressure and prevent hypertension. A plain white potato also provides about 50% of your daily requirement for vitamin C, 10% of your vitamin B6 and traces of other important minerals such as thiamin, riboflavin, folate, magnesium, phosphorus, iron and zinc, along with 2 g. of fiber. The white potato is also low in sodium, fat and cholesterol. That’s a lot of nutrition for less than $1.00!


The skin of the potato is an important nutrient source that should be eaten rather than peeled off whenever possible. A variety of new potato colors have appeared in the market over the last few years, including red potatoes, pink potatoes, Yukon gold potatoes, purple potatoes and fingerling potatoes; many of them heritage types. These potatoes offer color appeal and important phytonutrients that can help improve your health.


The Nutritional Value of The Sweet Potato


The health benefits of sweet potatoes have been promoted a lot lately, often stating that sweet potatoes are healthier than white potatoes. It is true that the sweet potato has more carotenoids such as beta carotene because of the orange color, and an extra gram of fiber, yet according to the Cleveland Clinic, the sweet potato actually has slightly less protein, potassium and magnesium, making both the sweet potato AND the white potato great sources of nutrition that should be included in your healthy diet. That is, if you don’t smother them in butter, sour cream and salt!


How To Cook Your Potatoes So They Stay Healthy

Smothering the white potato, the sweet potato, or any color of potato in fattening toppings or deep-frying them is why people think potatoes and weight gain go hand in hand. Although it is the position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that all foods can be part of a healthy diet when eaten in moderation, it’s the moderation part that can be hard for most of us! However there are healthier potato recipes that are yummy, yet easy on the waistline that can be enjoyed often. Why not try some of these recipes from Foot Steps to Health?


Bacon Blue Cheese Fingerling Potatoes

Serves 2

• 1 cup fingerling potatoes
• 1½ tsp. olive oil
• ¼ tsp. salt
• ¼ tsp. ground black pepper
• 2 Tbsp. crumbled blue cheese
• 2 Tbsp. bacon crumbles
• 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh chives

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Rinse fingerling potatoes, pat dry, and toss with olive oil. Place potatoes in a baking dish, sprinkle with salt and pepper; bake 20 minutes or until tender. Remove potatoes from oven, place in serving dish and sprinkle with blue cheese, bacon and chives.

Per serving: 157 calories, 7 g fat, 6 g protein, 16 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 583 mg sodium.


Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Turnips

Serves 6

• 1 lb. russet potatoes, peeled and diced
• 1 lb. turnips, peeled and diced
• 4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
• 2 Tbsp. butter
• 2 Tbsp. light sour cream
• 2 – 4 Tbsp. milk
• salt and pepper

Combine the first 3 ingredients in a medium saucepan; cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes or until very tender. Drain well and return to pan. Add butter, sour cream and 2 Tbsp. milk. Beat with a mixer until smooth. Add additional milk to achieve desired consistency. Salt and pepper, to taste.

Per ¾ cup serving: 220 calories, 4.5 g fat, 4 g protein, 42 g. carbohydrate, 7 g fiber, 45 mg. sodium

Jennifer M. Wood, MS, RD

Jennifer M Wood, MS, RDN is registered dietitian nutritionist and successful food and nutrition consultant in Southeastern Minnesota. As the founder of a nation-wide gourmet food company, Wood wrote Jenny’s Country Kitchen…recipes for making homemade a little easier! (2003), which is a timeless collection of make-ahead, freeze-ahead and pantry-stocking recipes and time saving tips to help busy families put nutritious food on table. Wood graduated with a pre-med bachelors degree in nutritional science in 2001, completed her dietetic internship in 2007 and went on to complete a master’s degree in food and nutrition in 2011.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. I love the piece here about the health benefits of potatoes, a starch I’ve long studied and enjoyed for its many benefits in all its varietals. Thank you for posting. One thing I was surprised by though were the recipes cited. If we are going to post an article on the numerous health-promoting benefits of potatoes and within the very same piece, make specific note to encourage readers not to negate said benefits by topping them with butter, sour cream and salt, but then use two recipes which contain butter, sour cream and…bacon, is a strange contradiction. There are plenty of recipes out there for dozens if not hundreds of potato dishes that don’t contain an abundance of fattening dairy, cured meat or salt. Thanks for the post though. My best to you.

Leave a Reply