Potatoes are a super versatile vegetable. There are many ways to cook them, as well as many different recipes you can add them to. This root vegetable, similar to many others, provides numerous nutritional benefits that can help your body in more ways than one.
Although these spuds can offer nutritional value to your meal, you must be careful about how you eat them. Not every way you eat them is a healthy way. According to Julie Upton, MS, RD, and member of our Medical Expert Board, the healthiest way to eat your potatoes is to leave the skin on and bake them.
"The healthiest way to eat a potato is baking it with the skin on," says Upton. "Baked potatoes add no additional calories like frying or roasting with oil."
Leaving the skins on the potato brings extra nutrients to the food. For example, one potato skin, about 58 grams, offers 4.5 grams of fiber, and 332 milligrams of potassium (which is a good source of potassium in your daily value). That means that half of the total fiber from a medium potato comes from the skin!
"Potatoes are one of my favorite veggies," says Upton. "They are packed with potassium, fiber, and vitamin C. A medium potato has about 110 calories making potatoes a diet-friendly option."
Potatoes are a starchy food which should also be an important part of your diet, as it's a good source of carbohydrates. According to research published in the journal, Nutrients, aside from the fact that potatoes can contribute to a needed intake of vitamins and micronutrients, studies also suggested that eating potatoes requires less energy rather than when eating pasta or rice. Therefore, it is suggested that potatoes be a part of a balanced diet.
However, it's important to note that not every way you eat potatoes is going to be healthy. Even baked with the skin on can have its downfalls. You mostly have to be careful about what you top it with. Some toppings add little nutritional value and too many extra calories, so it's important to select toppings, if any, that will help make you feel full and also won't ruin the value of the potato.
"The key is watching high-fat, high-cal toppings like butter, sour cream, gravy, and bacon bits," suggests Upton. "Instead, top them with beans, salsa, chili, veggies, or a bit of shredded parmesan."