Recently, I was at a fabulous restaurant in Philadelphia, seeking to enjoy a light dinner. I scanned the menu for my usual suspects: Mixed greens salad with grilled chicken, salmon with asparagus, veggie and bean soup….and then my eyes landed on an almost poetic description of roasted, multi-colored fingerling potatoes with fresh herbs and chorizo. Ummm….yes, please!! I thought to myself as I was ordering, that many of my clients might be surprised by my choice that evening. I mean, potatoes?? Seriously? Aren’t potatoes a no-no? Starchy, full of carbs, little nutrition, weight-loss bombs? The “lowly potato,” as it has been unjustly named, has simply gotten a bad rap. Assuming portion sizes are being considered, (as with any food), potatoes are a powerhouse.
I know this can seem a bit confusing—usually if a food does not have color, we say that it lacks nutrients, but the potato is an exception to this rule. Potatoes are loaded with vitamins (organic compounds needed to sustain life). I usually say, when speaking about food, that if God made it, it’s good. Potatoes, I apologize for leaving you out of this generalization for way too long! Here’s a fact sheet about the potato that just might have your running out the door to the store and re-thinking tonight’s dinner menu.
The fiber in potatoes is both soluble and insoluble, so it keeps you regular
Potatoes contain kukomine, a compound that lowers blood pressure
Potatoes contain almost every nutrient, except for vitamin A
Potatoes are loaded with potassium, twice as much as a banana, but eat it with the skin on
Potatoes contain antioxidants that fight free radicals
Potatoes are a big provider of vitamin C, when eaten with the skin
Potatoes help prevent heart disease by lowering harmful LDL- cholesterol
The high amount of vitamin B-6 in potatoes helps lower stress, boost mood, and balance the nervous system
As if all of those facts were not enough, and contrary to what we might suspect, potatoes can actually AID in weight loss. Potatoes are complex carbohydrates and will break down more slowly in the body. This helps prevent large blood sugar spikes…and we know that spikes in blood sugar often result in overeating. As a rich carbohydrate source, they provide the body with fuel for movement, thinking, digestion and cellular renewal.
I’m not a spokesperson for potato farmers of America (lol!), but I am a big fan, and appreciative of all that this simple, inexpensive food brings to the table…pun intended. Just be cautious of how you prepare them—bake, don’t fry—and be smart with your toppings. Make a little salad inside of your potato with veggies and greens, top with your favorite dressing and some protein like chicken, beans, or leftover steak! As I mentioned at the top of the page, I ate a small bowl of fingerling potatoes that were roasted, skins on, in olive oil and served with diced chorizo. While chorizo might not be my first choice of protein, it was, indeed a protein source that, when paired with the potato, helps it to break down more slowly in the body. A small potato is a serving, while a larger one would only require half. There are endless ways to serve these terrific tubers, both as a main course and as a side. Get creative and elevate the “lowly” potato!!