Potatoes get a bad rap. However, did you know that potatoes are high in iron and vitamin C (which helps the iron absorption), as well as having more potassium than a banana and a good dose of vitamin B6? Potatoes are a fat-free, sodium-free powerhouse with only 110 calories, so why are there so many potato haters out there?
The rise in popularity of low carbohydrate diets certainly has a lot to do with it. I’m not a fan of the low carb diet. Carbs are such an essential part of good nutrition, and while you may lose weight quickly and easily, it’s not sustainable, in my opinion (and the opinion of many doctors). A recent Harvard study on the Ketogenic diet concludes that “a balanced, unprocessed diet, rich in very colorful fruits and vegetables, lean meats, fish, whole grains, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and lots of water seems to have the best evidence for a long, healthier, vibrant life” (full article here). But, I’m not here to judge, so if a Keto diet works for you, you do you and read no further.
Many carbohydrates offer important nutrients as well as fiber. I think where we get into trouble is in refined carbohydrates like breads, pasta and baked goods made with white flour, as well as white rice and sugar laden carbohydrates. Your body uses carbs as its main energy source, and certainly too much can lead to an insulin overload. I’m a big believer in a well-balanced diet, lots of variety and moderation in all things.
Still, not all potatoes are created equal. For better health, I’m talking about a simple baked potato here, and not one laden with “the works” – bacon, cheese, butter, and/or sour cream. And not French fries or potato chips, or mayonnaise laden potato salad, just a nice, hot, spud.
I recently discovered my new favorite way to bake a potato – in the crock pot! Just scrub them, poke a few holes in them, rub them with a little olive oil and salt and place them in the crock, no aluminum foil required. And then have some fun. Here are some ideas of toppings to make a meal out of a baked potato:
- Cheezy Broccoli Soup
- Irish White Bean and Cabbage Stew
- Vegan Taco Tuesday filling
- Coconut Black-eyed Pea Curry
- The ideas are limitless!
The often disparaged and misunderstood potato is not the enemy of dieters. It’s filling and nutritious, and while I don’t recommend eating one everyday (remember, variety), why not embrace the potato as part of a healthy balanced diet.