Potatoes are often thought of as a comfort food – mashed with butter, cheese and sour cream or fried in oil. When prepared in these ways, they can lead to weight gain, diabetes and heart disease. However, if they are eaten the right way, potatoes are essential and nutritious. They are low calorie and are a good source of vitamins C and B6, manganese, phosphorus, niacin and pantothenic acid. Here are some of the most common types of potatoes and their different health benefits.
Russet potatoes are ideal for baking. Eaten plain or with heart-healthy garnishments, such as olive oil and chopped chives, a russet potato contains nutrients and fibre that can benefit your heart, bones, immune system and metabolism.
A large baked russet potato has 7g of fibre, which helps lower your cholesterol, reducing your risk of developing plaque in your arteries. It also provides more than one-third of your daily requirement for potassium, a mineral that when combined with sodium, maintains a healthy balance of water in your body and keeps your blood pressure low.
Moreover, russet potatoes are a rich source of magnesium and phosphorus, minerals which play a role in the formation of bones and teeth. Magnesium also promotes nerve and muscle function, while phosphorus helps your body store energy from food.
Sweet potatoes contain a wealth of orange-hued carotenoid pigments and have been shown to be a highly effective source of sizable amounts vitamin A. And because sweet potatoes are available in many countries throughout the year, they are able to provide us with the key antioxidant, beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is a substance that inhibits the oxidation of other molecules and protects the body from free radicals, which damage cells through oxidation. Eventually, the damage caused by free radicals can cause several chronic illnesses.
Recent research has shown that when passing through our digestive tract, sweet potato cyanidins and peonidins and other color-related phytonutrients may be able to lower the potential health risk posed by heavy metals and oxygen radicals.
Some nutritional benefits from sweet potatoes simply may be easier to achieve if you use steaming or boiling as your cooking method.
Native to South America, purple potatoes are rich in the antioxidant that is characteristic of deeply coloured blue or purple produce called anthocyanin. It is most well-known for its immunity boosting and cancer fighting properties.
Eating purple potatoes may also lower blood pressure. This could be because of their effect on the capillaries and blood vessels, along with the high concentration of a phytochemical called chlorogenic acid.
In addition, purple potatoes contain a good dose of insoluble fibre, which helps you meet the proper amount of fibre needs. Insoluble fibre can provide a sort of time-released effect that helps endurance athletes sustain high energy levels for long periods of time.