Americans love potatoes; in fact, we eat about 50 pounds of potatoes each year, per person. Yet if you ask five different people whether or not potatoes are healthy, you’re likely to get five different opinions. Some people are potato fanatics, and some people advocate avoiding them altogether. As with many controversies, especially in the realm of nutrition and health, the answer lies somewhere in between, and it also depends in part on the type of potato being consumed. One type that is surprisingly nutrient dense but isn’t quite as popular as other varieties is the white potato.
Facts About White Potatoes
The term “white potato” is actually more of a category than a specific variety of the potato plant (Solanum tuberosum). Generally speaking, a white potato is a medium-starch tuber with white flesh and white skin that is often used in soups and stews, and it can also be mashed, boiled, or roasted; they’re typically not, by comparison, used for frying like their russet cousins. As with all other kinds of potatoes, white potatoes originated in the Americas and were brought to Europe in the 16th century. The varieties most commonly found in America today are California white or Irish white.
Health Benefits of White Potatoes
All potatoes have a variety of nutrients that make them a healthy component of any diet, which is why they are consumed by more than a billion people around the world annually. The difference between the varieties comes down to nutrient density—that is, the amount of nutrients per calorie. When viewed in this context, white potatoes are one of the healthiest potato choices you can make; they have more nutrients per calorie, for example, than another highly popular variety, the sweet potato.
Yet with white potatoes or any other cultivar, their relative healthiness is dependent on not eating too much. This is primarily because the starch content is high and they have a high glycemic index; this means that they have a much greater impact on blood sugar levels than other vegetables. To really get the most out of white potatoes in a daily diet, they would be better as a replacement for bread or rice rather than green vegetables like broccoli or spinach. If eaten in moderation, though, white potatoes are a great source of many nutrients and related health benefits:
- Nutrition facts: A 5 ounce portion of white potatoes has 3 grams of fiber (30 grams of total carbohydrates), 3 grams of protein, and a negligible amount of polyunsaturated fat. And even though that same serving size has 130 calories, when eaten with the skin on, it is also a good source of numerous vitamins and minerals: potassium, manganese, niacin, folate, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin B6, magnesium, and phosphorus.
- Good for the heart: One serving of potatoes has about 620 mg of potassium, or 15% of the recommended daily value. Among other things, potassium is beneficial because it draws sodium out of the bloodstream and causes it to be passed out of the body through urine. Lower sodium, in turn, means relaxed blood vessels and lower blood pressure.
- Dietary fiber: White potatoes, particularly the skin, have higher fiber content than other types of potatoes. Dietary fiber is important for multiple reasons, not the least of which is its impact on digestion and bowel regularity. But fiber is also one of the components of plant matter that helps create satiety, the feeling of fullness after eating a meal. When we feel full, we’re less likely to overeat, and this can help with maintaining a healthy weight or even losing weight.
- Healthy eyes: Though more study is needed to understand the full bioavailability of these compounds, research has shown that the skin of white potatoes is high in phytochemicals like lutein that have been associated with better eye health and fewer problems with inflammation in the eyes in general. It is also thought to help prevent age-related macular degeneration in older adults.
- Anti-cancer properties: White potatoes also contain antioxidants like vitamin C that protect the body’s cells from free radicals; the damage caused by free radicals can ultimately lead to negative health outcomes like cancer and other types of disease. Antioxidants essentially inhibit the ability of free radicals to cause damage in the first place.
- Brain function: Several compounds that are abundant in white potatoes are known to be beneficial for maintaining brain cells and potentially improving brain function. Potatoes provide about 10% of the recommended daily value for iron, a mineral that is associated with cognitive function. Also, choline, an essential nutrient and another type of phytochemical, is involved in nervous system functions like memory, mood, and muscle control.
How to Prepare White Potatoes
For maximum nutritional benefit, white potatoes should be prepared with the skins on as with baked potatoes or in some mashed potatoes recipes; however, some of the health benefits can essentially be negated if they’re covered in high cholesterol toppings like butter, sour cream, or cheese. And although some of the nutritional value is still intact, frying potatoes in oil like with french fries or potato chips can also make the potatoes a net negative in terms of health value. The bottom line is that white potatoes can be a great source of nutrition and part of a healthy diet when eaten in moderation.
Premium Dried Ingredients from Silva
Both fresh and dehydrated white potatoes can be a healthy and delicious addition to many recipes, including soups, stews, pasta products, snacks, sauces, and ready meals. At Silva, we’re committed to always delivering high quality ingredients, but we’re also passionate about working with you and providing whatever you need to give your customers excellent products. If you’d like to learn more about what we offer or what Silva can do for your company, please contact us today.