Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Potatoes = Broccoli

This past weekend, Harmony and I made french fries in the oven. I guess we should call them "french bakes" then. One thing led to another and eventually Harmony found these interesting facts on World's Healthiest Foods:

A new analytical method developed by Agricultural Research Service plant geneticist Roy Navarre has identified 60 different kinds of phytochemicals and vitamins in the skins and flesh of 100 wild and commercially grown potatoes. Analysis of Red and Norkotah potatoes revealed that these spuds' phenolic content rivals that of broccoli, spinach and Brussels sprouts, and includes flavonoids with protective activity against cardiovascular disease, respiratory problems and certain cancers. Navarre's team also identified potatoes with high levels of vitamin C, folic acid, quercetin and kukoamines. These last compounds, which have blood pressure lowering potential, have only been found in one other plant, Lycium chinense (a.k.a., wolfberry/gogi berry). How much kukoamine is needed for a blood pressure lowering effect in humans must be assessed before it can be determined whether an average portion of potatoes delivers enough to impact cardiovascular health. Still, potatoes' phytochemical profiles show it's time to shed their starch-only image; spuds-baked, steamed or healthy sautéed but not fried-deserve a place in your healthy way of eating

Now, there are some considerations to be taken here. This study only examined certain varieties of potatoes, so perhaps not all varieties have such healthful content. And most common preparations of potato involve peeling the skin (more on that just below). But in the end, a potato is a potato, and I imagine there can't be THAT much difference in nutritional profiles among potato varieties.

Here's what the Washington State Potato Commission has to say about the notion that most of a potato's nutrients are in the skin:
Despite the popular notion, the majority of nutrients are not found in the skin, but in the potato itself. Nonetheless, leaving the skin on the potatoes retains all the nutrients, the fiber in the skin and makes potatoes easier to prepare.

I believe that organic potatoes are not too much more expensive than their conventially grown counterparts, so go that route if you're so inclined and able. Or better yet, grow your own, like we are planning to do.

So next time you have an option to eat potatoes, throw out that old line of thinking that says "potatoes = bad" or "potatoes = starchy = bad." (unless your doctor has specifically told you to stay away from potatoes) Instead, replace it with "potatoes = broccoli" or "potatoes = spinach."

(just don't use this to justify an increase in fast food french fry intake)

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3 have poured out their souls in electronic text:

  • Alan

    Ok, here's the question I know everyone wants answered: What about potato chips? ;-)

  • Homeschoolin' hot-rodders

    We make our own "baked" fries all the time and we love them! We too eat quite a bit of potatoes because...we are very frugal in our food budget. I have yet to find anyone in our area that has had any luck growig potatoes so that is why we stayed away from them *sigh*. OTOH, my kale and brussel sprouts are going mad!


  • Harmony's Mom

    Potatoes are my favorite food, so it's good to know they are good for you. Even as potato chips, yes there is oil and salt that might not be good, but that is all the added ingredients, not like all this other stuff with all the additives. It also helps me get back to normal when I have a hypoglycemic crash, so I think of them as really good!