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All About Potatoes

America’s Favorite Vegetable

P-O-T-A-T-O-E-S

Potatoes are a staple in many homes, and rightfully so. They’re easily accessible, affordable, and versatile. But the humble spud is so much more than meets the eye. There are over 200 varieties of potatoes sold, fitting into seven potato types: Russet, Red, White, Yellow, Blue/Purple, Fingerling, and Petite. An average 5.3 oz potato has: only 110 calories, 30% of your daily vitamin C, and 15% of your daily potassium (620 mg per serving, which is more than a medium-sized banana with 422 mg per serving). Potatoes are also gluten-free, fat-free, and affordable. What more can you ask for from a vegetable?

What more can you ask from a vegetable?

How Potatoes Grow:

American potatoes are grown from certified seed potatoes developed by world-class potato breeding programs and must pass the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s seed certification system.

After the potato seeds are planted, over the course of a few months, 5-20 tubers will start to grow per plant. To dig up the potatoes, farmers use advanced machines to carefully remove the potatoes out of the ground and separate the potatoes from other plant material, dirt, and rocks. The potatoes are then gently transported to different facilities.

To learn more about planting and harvesting, check out this video.

Watch

Potato Facts You Might Not Know

Sustainability

Potatoes are good for a healthy, sustainable earth. Potatoes produce more food energy per cubic meter of water used than any other major crop and use less land per kilogram of production than most other foods. Potato farmers use sustainable growing techniques to ensure healthy crops generation after generation. Learn more about potato sustainability here.

Source:

“Potato and water resources.” Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.  https://www.fao.org/potato-2008/en/potato/water.html.  Accessed 15 Nov. 2021.

“International Year of the Potato.” Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.  https://www.fao.org/potato-2008/en/aboutiyp/index.html.  Accessed 15 Nov. 2021.

Read More

White Potatoes vs. Sweet Potatoes

Both regular potatoes and sweet potatoes are remarkably similar on many key nutrients. For example, a white potato has 620mg of potassium per serving while a sweet potato has 440mg of potassium per serving. Click here for a side-by-side comparison of these two vegetables. Potassium is particularly important because less than 3% of Americans get enough of this key nutrient, and research suggests that diets rich in potassium and low in sodium reduce the risk of hypertension and stroke.

Diabetes

According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), starchy vegetables like potatoes can be included in the diets of people with diabetes. The total amount of carbohydrates consumed at any given meal or snack is what is most important. If you’re interested in more information about the glycemic index of potatoes, click here

FAQ’s

Should I be concerned about pesticides on my potatoes?
You should feel confident that your potatoes are safe, healthy and nutritious. The use of pesticides is fully regulated at both the federal and state level — including the EPA, USDA and FDA — and both conventional and organic potato farmers meet or exceed the standards for responsible use of pesticides set by those agencies. For more information about pesticides, check out the Safe Fruits and Veggies calculation tool for consumers.

Are all the nutrients in the skin of the potato?
No! While the skin contains approximately half of the total dietary fiber, most of the nutrients are found within the potato itself. For example, potassium and vitamin C are found predominantly in the flesh of the potato.

Are potatoes bad for my blood sugar?
The effect of potatoes (or any food) on blood sugar varies a lot and depends on lots of factors like how it’s prepared and what it’s eaten with (i.e., protein or fat).(3,4,5,6)Many people concerned about blood sugar are diabetic, and according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), starchy vegetables like potatoes can be included in the diet of a person with diabetes. The total amount of carbohydrates consumed at any given meal or snack is what is most important.

Will eating potatoes with green patches make me sick?
Green on the skin of a potato is the build-up of a chemical called solanine. It’s a natural reaction to the potato being exposed to too much light. Solanine produces a bitter taste and if eaten in large quantities can cause illness. To prevent greening, store potatoes in a cool, dark place. If you see green skin, cut it away before cooking and eating the potato.

Why should I soak potatoes in cold water before cooking?
Soaking potatoes in water helps remove excess starch. Excess starch can keep potatoes from cooking evenly and create a gummy or sticky texture on the outside of the potatoes. Cold water is used because hot water would react with the starch, making it harder to separate from the potatoes.

Sources:
3 Fernandes G, Velangi A, Wolever TMS. Glycemic index of potatoes commonly consumed in North America. J Am Diet Assoc. 2005;105:557-562.
4 Henry CJ, Lightowler HJ, Kendall FL, Storey M. The impact of the addition of toppings/fillings on the glycaemic response to commonly consumed carbohydrate foods. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2006;60(6):763-9.
5 Henry CJ, Lightowler HJ, Strik CM, Storey M. Glycaemic index values for commercially available potatoes in Great Britain. Br J Nutr. 2005;94(6):917-21.
6 Devlin BL, Parr EB, Radford BE, Hawley JA. Lower nocturnal blood glucose response to a potato-based mixed evening meal compared to rice in individuals with type 2 diabetes. Clin Nutr. 2021 Apr;40(4):2200-2209. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2020.09.049. Epub 2020 Oct 8. PMID: 33069511.

Do potatoes count as a serving of vegetables?

Yes! Potatoes are a vegetable and nutrient-dense to boot! Many people are surprised to learn potatoes are: An excellent source of vitamin C (30% DV) -- that's more than a tomato!
A good source of potassium (15% DV) -- that's more than a medium banana!
A good source of vitamin B6 (10% DV) and contain 3 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber. Learn more about this powerhouse vegetable.

Learn More

FAQ’s Continued

Are there differences in nutrient content between fresh, frozen, and instant potatoes?
In all forms, potatoes deliver the same nutrients, but the amounts vary depending on how the potato is processed or prepared. For more information on the nutrient content of different forms of potatoes, click here.

Are potatoes a bad carb?
No! Carbs are our brain’s primary fuel and a key source of energy for our muscles – we couldn’t live without them! Potatoes are a complex carbohydrate. Most of our carbs should be complex carbs like potatoes.(7) Learn more about potatoes as a high-quality carbohydrate here.

If I am trying to lose weight, do I need to avoid potatoes?
There is no evidence that potatoes, when prepared in a healthful manner, impede weight loss. Potatoes are naturally fat-free and cholesterol-free with just 110 calories in a medium potato (5.3-ounce serving). Research suggests that potatoes are one of the most filling foods you can eat,(8) and they may stave off hunger better than common sides like pasta, rice and bread.(9,10)

Do potatoes cause inflammation?
A persistent myth exists that nightshade vegetables like potatoes cause inflammation, but there are there are no scientific studies done to prove this is the case.(11) In fact, in terms of potatoes, research shows the opposite may be true. A study published in The Journal of Nutrition showed yellow and purple potatoes lowered blood markers for inflammation in healthy men. Potatoes also contain anti-inflammatory components such as resistant starch, fiber and anthocyanins.

Are potatoes gluten-free?
Yes! Potatoes are gluten-free, and we have lots of great gluten-free recipes to help inspire your next meal.

Can I eat potatoes raw?
While you can, it might be tough a little tough to digest. We think you’ll enjoy cooked potatoes much more, and we’ve a recipe to suit your every need.

Are potato products like chips and fries processed foods?
Potatoes are a whole food, and most products made from potatoes, including chips and fries, are made from a few, simple ingredients. While some people have concerns about “processing” food, there are many aspects of processing that make our food safer, more accessible and affordable. Processing can also help reduce food waste. For example, freezing potatoes locks in the flavor and nutrition of fresh potatoes for longer. Instant potatoes are simply dehydrated – potatoes without the water! Thanks to the careful processing techniques used, instant potato products retain most of their nutrition.

 

Sources:
7 National Library of Medicine, “Complex carbohydrates.” Reviewed 8.20.20. Retrieved 4.13.22. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/imagepages/19529.htm
8 Holt SHA, et al., A satiety index of common foods. Eur J Clin Nut.1995. 49: 675-690
9 Gelibter A, et al Satiety following intake of potatoes and other carbohydrate test meals. Ann Nutr Metab. 2013;62:37-43
10 Akilen R, et al. The effects of potatoes and other carbohydrate side dishes consumed with meat on food intake, glycemia and satiety response in children. Nutr Diabetes. 2016 Feb 15;6:e195
11 “Best Vegetables for Arthritis.” Arthritis Foundation. https://www.arthritis.org/health-wellness/healthy-living/nutrition/healthy-eating/best-vegetables-for-arthritis. Accessed 22 April 2022.


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