Potatoes are frequently seen as one of the baddies in our diet. And they've fallen further out of favour with the influx of low carbohydrate diets such as the Dukan and Atkins, because of their high carbohydrate content. But weight for weight, boiled potatoes have fewer calories than cooked rice and pasta. Furthermore, according to a recent study, eating potatoes every day can have significant health benefits.
The US Agriculture Department funded study, found that eating potatoes twice a day could help lower blood pressure without causing weight gain.
The study, presented at a meeting of the American Chemical Society, involved 18 overweight or obese men and women with high blood pressure. All were taking blood pressure medication. Over the period of one month, the participants ate six to eight golf sized potatoes with lunch and dinner. The potatoes were microwaved for maximum nutrient preservation and they were eaten with their skins on without the addition of butter.
After the study, all the participants experienced a drop in diastolic and systolic blood pressure but had not gained weight. They used purple potatoes because the pigment in fruits and vegetables is especially rich in beneficial phytochemicals. Potatoes contain Vitamins B1, B6, C and K. And when baked, they’re also a good source of potassium.
Joe Vinson, Ph.D., who headed the research, said: “The potato, more than perhaps any other vegetable, has an undeserved bad reputation that has led many health-conscious people to ban them from their diet.”
He continued: “Mention ‘potato’ and people think ‘fattening, high-carbs, empty calories’. In reality, when prepared without frying and served without butter, margarine or sour cream, one potato has only 110 calories and dozens of healthful phytochemicals and vitamins. We hope our research helps to remake the potato’s popular nutritional image.”
Although the study used purple potatoes, Vinson expects a future study using white potatoes to produce similar effects.
So if you like eating potatoes, there’s even more good reason to keep on eating them if you’re trying to lose weight. Just don’t turn them into high calorie baddies. The best way to keep their calories down is to eat them as simply as possible. Instead of adding butter to a baked potato for example, top with fat free quark, or low fat cream cheese and chives, or baked beans. Leave out the grated cheese as that’s going to add loads of calories and saturated fat. Try to eat the skin as well for the added fibre.
Here’s the nutritional information for 100g of boiled, peeled potatoes: 72 calories, 0.1g fat, 0g saturated fat, 1.8g protein, 17g carbohydrate, 1.2g fibre.
And if you’re interested in cooking with potatoes, the following books: The Rosemary Conley Low Fat Cookbook and Skinny Potatoes are highly recommended. If you want to make your own virtually fat free chips, check out the Philips Air Fryer. Last year it won the Good Housekeeping Institute Approved 2010 Award and this year it received the Which? ‘Best Small Home Appliance Brand’ Award 2011. And if you're making your own chips, you're sure to enjoy using the Kitchen Craft Potato Chipper for perfectly formed chips.