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Lots to Love about Potatoes!

March 2, 2007
by Janice Baker, R.D., CDE

     In spite of the bad rap that potatoes get from some fad diets, potatoes are loaded with healthful nutrients. Among the U.S. population, potatoes make up almost half of the vegetables consumed.  Unfortunately, most of those potatoes are eaten as French fries, which are high in fat, calories and sodium.  However, with a few changes, your potato dishes can contribute to a healthful, tasty and satisfying diet. 

     Potatoes are not only fat- and cholesterol-free, but are a good source of dietary fiber, which is important for digestion and may reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.  They are also high in the antioxidant vitamin C.  Potatoes are a rich source of potassium; a diet rich in potassium (while also low in sodium) helps prevent high blood pressure and stroke. 

     Being that potatoes are so healthy, itís how we prepare them that can turn this popular veggie into a nutritional disaster.  Frying destroys much of the vitamin C, making baked or microwaved potatoes a much healthier choice.  And leaving the skin on will make sure many of the valuable nutrients arenít lost. 

     Potatoes are a healthy and convenient option at home or out. Most restaurants serve baked potatoes (order it plain, with vegetables, or with a little margarine on the side) with a salad or bowl of soup and youíll have a healthy meal.

 

Ideas for healthy potato toppings:

  • Fat free sour cream and chives
  • Spray margarine with a dash of salt free seasoning or pepper
  • Black beans and your favorite salsa
  • Lemon juice and pepper
  • Chili, green onions and a couple tablespoons of low fat shredded cheese

 

Try these oven fries to satisfy your French fry cravings:   Scrub potatoes clean and cut into wedges.  Place on baking sheet coated with cooking spray.  Spray potatoes with additional cooking spray; sprinkle with salt free seasonings of choice.  Bake 30 minutes at 475 degrees until tender, turning potatoes occasionally. (If you have something else cooking in the oven at a lower temperature, you may cook the potatoes at the same time, but for a longer amount of time).

 


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