If you're spending more time than usual fantasizing about potatoes, you probably aren't alone. Potatoes aren't just amazing because of how they taste when you chop them up and fry them. They're also just generally great for your health. In fact, in their pre-fried form, the health benefits of potatoes are the real deal.
"Potatoes are a healthy food," says certified holistic nutrition consultant and founder of Gut of Integrity Stephanie Papadakis. Their deep fried form gets a bad rap, but Papadakis says that's less about the potatoes themselves and more about the way these oils are heated, which causes a buildup of oxidative stress and potential cell and tissue damage in your body. At the core of your French fries, there's still a huge potential for nutrition.
Potatoes' Health Benefits Include Potassium
Jam-packed with potassium, white potatoes have more of these bone-building nutrients than sweet potatoes or even bananas, Papadakis says. Potassium can help lower your blood pressure, so your cardiovascular system may benefit from you being a fan of all things mashed or baked. It's not too difficult to get your daily dose of potassium if you're a potato fan. According to Papadakis, a single potato can contain more than 20% of your daily potassium needs.
Potatoes Have Lots Of Other Vitamins
The tubers are also a great source of vitamin B6, which Papadakis says is great for boosting your energy metabolism. The fiber in potatoes can help make it easier for your body to absorb nutrients. The vitamin C in sweet potatoes can help your cells more effectively protect keep out pathogens and reduce the effects of everyday wear and tear on your skin. Potatoes are also loaded with manganese, which is an important part of maintaining bone and nerve health.
Even The Starch In Potatoes Has Gut-Health Benefits
Sure, you might be thinking, but what about all that starch? Starch is, indeed, part of potatoes' (undeserved) reputation, but Papadakis says that the resistant starch in potatoes "helps to improve your metabolism and blood sugar while optimizing your gut flora." That means you'll stay fuller longer, decrease insulin spikes, and make it a lot easier to digest those potatoes and other yummy treats.
To maximize these benefits, Papadakis tells Bustle that preparation is key. "Cook your potatoes 'al dente,' meaning you can’t get a knife all the way through them," she says. "This process changes starches and how your body digests them," allowing you to get the most benefits from your favorite tuber. "You can also cook the potatoes and cool them (without reheating), which does the same thing."
Stephanie Papadakis, certified holistic nutrition consultant and founder of Gut of Integrity