The white potato has a poor dietary reputation. This is probably due to the fact that “white foods” are widely considered “bad” for you. As a “carbophobic” society, it makes sense that we would fear ALL starchy white carbohydrates. When I speak to many people who are struggling to lose weight, they say, “I eat extremely clean. I eat nothing made with white flour, and no white rice, pasta, or potatoes.” But the problem with carbohydrates in general (as stated in numerous articles on this blog, but must be emphatically repeated), is that we have a huge tendency to over consume them. Some white starchy carbohydrates like pasta are just too easy to over consume, and are relatively high in calories compared to the portion size. The baked potato however, is full of nutrients (has almost double the potassium of a banana, and can make you feel very satiated [so you wont overeat]), and thus, I put it in a separate category than other white starchy carbohydrates.
Top 2 Reasons to include baked white potatoes into your diet:
1. Caloric Economy. Caloric economy is getting the most nutrients for investing in a certain amount of calories. One cup of a baked white potato has on average 120 calories, or a medium baked white potato has on average 150 calories. With that 120 to 150 calories, you get 3 grams of dietary fiber, 500 mg of potassium, a high level of vitamin B6 (~20% of the daily value), along with lower amounts of other B vitamins (thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, which are involved mainly in providing your body with energy), and a small amount of magnesium (involved in energy metabolism, maintaining normal blood pressure, and keeping bones strong). Potatoes also contain a small amount of manganese; a mineral involved in energy metabolism, antioxidant function, and wound healing. Potatoes are also filled with phytochemicals, which are plant compounds that have anti-cancer properties and help keep cells healthy (by preventing cell damage). According to the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, recent research suggests that the amount of phytochemicals in certain potatoes, are comparable to those in broccoli, spinach, and brussel sprouts. In addition, potatoes contain an extremely rare phytochemical called kukoamine, which may help lower blood pressure. More research is needed to further explore this compound and its potential health benefits.
2. Fullness Effect. How many potatoes would you eat in a row? Be honest. It is probably “one and done”. A baked potato added to a meal can make you feel really full. One study done on the satiety index of foods (how full a food can make you feel) showed that the highest satiety index score was produced by boiled potatoes. Because responses to foods really depend on the individual, add a baked potato to your dinner and let me know how full it makes you feel.
Whether your goal is health, weight management, or you just want to feel jacked, the potato will get you there.
THE NOTORIOUS BWP
Jan Susckiw, Agricultural Research Service. "Phytochemical Profilers Investigate Potato Benefits". September 2007 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.
Holt SH, Miller JC, Petocz P, Farmakalidis E. A satiety index of common foods. Eur J Clin Nutr.1995.49(9):675-90.