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Potatoes: A Nutrient-Dense Vegetable

Unpacking the health benefits of America's favorite vegetable

Whole Food, Affordable Nutrition

For 110 calories, one medium-sized (5.3 ounce), skin-on potato delivers essential vitamins and minerals, 3 grams of plant-based protein, and no fat, sodium, or cholesterol. Potatoes are a delicious vegetable people love and a nutritious solution that makes sense for the body and budget. In fact, this filling vegetable has one of the highest scores per dollar on eight important nutrients: potassium, fiber, protein, vitamins C and E, calcium, iron, and magnesium. Moreover, research has shown that including potatoes in the diet can support higher vegetable intakes– a winning combination.

Nutritional Powerhouse

Potatoes supply essential nutrients needed to conquer each day. You may be surprised to learn that potatoes also provide two nutrients of public health concern, including potassium and fiber. One medium-sized (5.3 ounce), skin-on potato delivers:

  • Vitamin C: 27mg per serving, 30% DV
  • Potassium: 620mg, 15% DV
  • Vitamin B6: 0.2mg, 10% DV
  • Carbohydrates: 26g, 9% DV
  • Fiber: 2g, 7% DV
  • Iron: 1.1mg, 6% DV
  • Protein: 3g

Enhancing Nutrient Intakes

Potatoes provide a great-tasting, affordable nutrient package that enables people to meet their goals for nutrient intake and vegetable consumption. Research shows that including potatoes as part of healthy diets can help people to meet nutrient intakes recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

A study using NHANES 2001-2018 data found that adolescents ages 9 to 18 years who consumed all forms of potatoes had better diet quality, nutrient intake and adequacy compared to those who did not consume potatoes.

A study using data from the National Growth and Health Study demonstrated that higher intakes of potatoes in any form during early adolescence (ages 9-11) is associated with higher intakes of potassium and dietary fiber.

A study using NHANES 2009-2010 data demonstrated that people who consumed white potatoes had significantly higher total vegetable and potassium intakes than those who did not consume potatoes. In addition, the proportion of potassium and dietary fiber contributed by white potatoes was higher than the proportion that they contributed to total energy.

Potatoes and Resistant Starch

Resistant starch is found naturally in potatoes and is a type of carbohydrate that is “resistant” to digestion by human digestive enzymes, similar to dietary fiber. Emerging research in both animal models and human studies suggest that resistant starch may enhance satiety, favorably impact blood lipid and blood glucose levels and increase the amount of good bacteria in the colon – additional research is needed to corroborate these findings. When it comes to emerging research on potatoes and resistant starch:

  • A study showed that the amount of resistant starch in potatoes varies depending partly on the potato variety, but mostly on the type of processing. For example, cooked and cooled potatoes contain the highest levels of resistant starch (4.3 grams per 100 grams of potato), followed by chilled and reheated potatoes (3.5 grams per 100 grams of potato) and potatoes served hot (3.1 grams per 100 grams of potato).

 

Resources

Nutrition Infographic

7 need-to-know nutrients and their benefits.

Read

Smart Snacking

See how potato chips stack up for nutrient-dense snacking.

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White vs. Sweet

Learn how white and sweet potatoes compare when it comes to nutrition.

Read

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