Incorporating Potatoes in a Healthy Diet
Did you know that every year Americans consume an average of over 130 pounds of potatoes per person? That's a lot of potatoes! Unfortunately, much of this consumption is comprised of French fries and potato chips, which give the potato a bad rap. But when unhealthful cooking preparations are avoided, the spud has lots of delicious nutrition to offer.
Potatoes are healthy
Potatoes are inherently healthy. For example, a medium baked potato contains:
- only 160 calories
- almost 4 grams of fiber (when the skin is eaten)
- twice the potassium of a banana
- no fat
- about ½ day's worth of vitamin C
- 4 grams of protein
But it's how you cook your potatoes that matters!
The downfall of the potato can be summed up as "French fries and potato chips." The problem with fries is that they are usually fried in hydrogenated oils, which contain quite a bit of unhealthy trans fats. Chips are also usually fried in oils and are often full of unhealthy fats as well as loads of added salt. The exception is baked chips, which are a better choice than the regular fried chips.
In order to make potatoes a healthful food choice, you need to look beyond the fries and chips. There are endless possibilities from a baked potato topped with salsa to mashed potatoes with fresh rosemary and fat-free sour cream. And if you cannot resist the occasional crispy fry, give the following recipe a try:
Crispy Oven-Baked Potato Wedges
3 medium baking potatoes
1 tablespoon chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Nonstick cooking spray
- Preheat oven to 425oF.
- Slice potatoes length wise, about ½" thick.
- Place wedges in a bowl, spray with cooking spray, and toss with chili powder, salt, and pepper.
- Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray and place wedges in a single layer.
- Place wedges in oven and bake for 25-40 minutes (you may need to remove halfway through cooking and toss for even browning).
- When wedges are lightly browned and cooked through, remove from oven.
- Allow to cool for 5 minutes, serve, and enjoy!
Conclusion: Eat potatoes but take care how you cook them
Although potatoes are probably not something you need to be adding to your diet, switching the form of your spud is an easy way to improve your diet. Remember that good nutrition includes eating a wide variety of colorful vegetables in addition to potatoes.