But potatoes can be a part of a heart-healthy diet because they are rich in potassium and fiber. They’re also packed with vitamins and minerals such as vitamin B, folate, fiber, vitamin C and potassium. Potassium helps to reduce blood pressure, and the fiber found in potatoes can help lower cholesterol. Potatoes also contain niacin, a vitamin that converts food into fuel and improves overall circulation.
The carbohydrates contained in potatoes are a great source of energy for athletes, kids and adults. A single small potato is about 110 calories without additions. Be careful; it’s the additions that we put on potatoes that get us into the higher fat and higher sodium category. Cheese, cheese sauce, sour cream, bacon, butter and salt can undo all the benefits of a potato.
Potatoes can come in a few varieties such as russet, fingerling, red, blue, Yukon gold and new potato. The russet potato is the most common and often used in baking or cooking.
Make sure to avoid mold, soft spots, green color or sprouting when purchasing potatoes. While potatoes are often stored in a plastic bag in the grocery store, it is better to take them out of the bag when you get home or buy them individually from the bulk display.
Potatoes enjoy cold, dry, dark spaces such as the pantry, basement, or cupboards (avoid the cupboard above your stove or warm areas of the kitchen). Store away from onions to avoid faster spoiling; potatoes keep for about one week.
If your potatoes grow sprouts, consider growing your own potatoes indoors. Cut off the bottom of the potato with the sprouted portion. Stick 4 evenly spaced toothpicks into the potato (to help the potato float evenly) and place into a glass of water. Once further sprouting occurs, pot the potato about 2 inches deep in moist soil. Maintain moist soil and place pot in an area that receives about six hours of sun for best growth.
Potatoes can be enjoyed baked, au-gratin, mashed, shredded for hash browns, as potato pancakes, in soups or even as a loaded potato (which means something different to everyone). As a kid, we enjoyed potato pancakes from grandma but couldn’t help eating mashed potatoes more on holidays.
As an adult, it’s fun to mix up potatoes but find healthier spins to family favorites. Nonfat plain Greek yogurt can be used as a substitute for sour cream on potatoes or skin milk vs. whole milk in mashed potatoes. No matter the occasion, don’t shy away from potatoes but rather, find a different way to enjoy them in moderation.
Speaking of old favorites, try out this spin on potato salad. This recipe is not only loaded with potassium and calcium, but can be a fun addition to any meal!
Red potato salad
4 medium potatoes (roughly 1 pound)
2 tablespoons plain, fat-free yogurt (I enjoy Greek for the thickness)
2 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
½ cup diced celery
¼ cup diced green onions
½ tsp salt (to taste)
¼ tsp pepper
Cut potatoes into bite-sized cubes, then boil them until tender when pierced with a fork, about 12 minutes. Drain and rinse the potatoes under cool water. In a large bowl, mix together yogurt, mayonnaise and mustard. Add celery, onion and cooled potatoes to the bowl. Add salt and pepper, then mix everything together. The salad can be served right away, or prepared ahead and stored overnight. Garnish with parsley if desired. Enjoy!
Meredith Ziegler is a clinical dietitian at St. Luke’s.