US potatoes—whether baked, roasted, or mashed—are often considered as comfort food. It is one of the most important and most abundantly produced crops in the world as it is grown and cultivated in over 125 countries around the world and in all 50 states of the United States.
Though humankind has been consuming spud-based food products and dishes since time immemorial, it is surprising that there are still relentless misconceptions about US potatoes. Here are four of those myths and the truth behind each.
Myth: Spuds are empty calories.
Truth: Despite naturally being starchy, this root crop contains a number of important nutrients. An average-sized unpeeled spud contains protein, potassium, fiber, iron, and 45% daily value of Vitamin C and 10% Vitamin B6. It has zero sodium and fat and it’s 110 calories.
Other than that, spuds have also been found to contain phosphorus, pantothenic acid, manganese, niacin, and copper. The phytonutrients found in the crop could initiate antioxidant properties, which in turn could help fight off free radicals and prevent cancer. (Source: Nutrition.Org)
Myth: Spuds contribute to weight gain.
Truth: US potatoes comprise of up to 80% water. Though it contains carbohydrates, nutritionists unanimously agree that it should not be considered as a main culprit for obesity. Consuming 7 ounces of healthy potato dishes can bring about 160 calories; in comparison, a cup of rice brings 206 calories and one regular-sized hamburger has 254 calories.
Potato chips and fries are loaded with salt and fat that make spuds less healthy and fattening, especially when consumed with equally unhealthy dips like butter, sour cream, or common cheese. In their natural state, US potatoes do not contain those. Thus, the way you prepare or cook spuds make a difference.
Contrary to this myth, spuds can be part of a dietary strategy for weight loss. A side dish comprising of boiled, microwaved, or baked US potatoes should comprise a quarter of your meal plate to help lower your overall calorie intake.
Myth: White spuds are not as good as the sweet variety.
Truth: In reality, white US potatoes and sweet ones come with complementary nutritional compositions. Thus, one should not be considered as better compared to the other.
The white variety of spuds have minerals, magnesium, potassium, and iron. In comparison, sweet potatoes get even for having Vitamin A and fiber.
Again, the way US potatoes, whether white or sweet, are prepared is a big factor that affects its nutritional value. Baked potato is obviously much healthier compared to potato chips that are readily available in the market and to fastfood French fries.
Myth: Peeling of spuds remove all of the nutrients.
Truth: Although it is more advisable not to peel US potatoes prior to cooking, nutritionists insist that peeling does not totally deprive you of all the nutrients contained in spuds (Although a percentage of some of the minerals and vitamins are lost). Most of Vitamin C and potassium content are in the flesh; thus, those will not be totally lost whether the spuds are peeled or not.