Originally published February 5 2011
Potatoes hold nutritional benefits
by Elizabeth Walling
(NaturalNews) The potato is versatile: you can bake it, boil it, mash it, fry it... you can even make pancakes from it. The potato is also (surprisingly) a healthy food that mankind has thrived on for thousands of years, even long before the invention of agriculture.
This fascinating little tuber is actually quite nutritious, containing more potassium than a banana. It's surprisingly high in vitamin C. Boiled or baked with the skin on will provide a multitude of nutrients, plus healthy dietary fiber (although most of the other vitamins and minerals are in the potato flesh, itself).
The potato is also a healthy source of natural starch. The body relies on carbohydrates as its primary source of fuel, and eating a healthy amount of carbohydrates prevents the body from breaking down protein (i.e. muscles and bone) for fuel. The potato is actually one of the safer forms of carbohydrates, as it doesn't contain irritants like gluten which are found in grains. Potatoes even protect us from things like colon cancer because of the cleansing action of the resistant starch, which passes through the digestive tract and into the colon.
Potatoes contain a vast array of important nutrients, including:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin B1
- Vitamin B3
- Vitamin B6
- Pantothenic Acid
But what good is all this nutrition if you can`t digest it? Because the potato is mostly starch, our bodies can`t break it down without help, in the form of heat. Cooking releases the nutrients or converts them into a form our bodies can process -- and how we cook the potato has a bearing on what vitamins and minerals we can get from it. Overall, baking, while destroying much of the Vitamin C, probably preserves more of the overall vitamin and mineral content than any other method.
Interesting tidbit about potato color: while the general nutritional components are the same regardless of potato color or variety, purple potatoes are even healthier for your blood vessels and heart because of the extra Anthocyanins (which give the tuber its distinctive color).
Next time you serve up that luscious, streaming-baked potato, you can feel good about the fact that you`re indulging in a sinfully rich and satisfying meal that`s surprisingly healthy -- and good for the waistline, too.
About the authorElizabeth Walling is a freelance writer specializing in health and family nutrition. She is a strong believer in natural living as a way to improve health and prevent modern disease. She enjoys thinking outside of the box and challenging common myths about health and wellness. You can visit her blog to learn more:
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