Popular potatoes

This week we are going to look at potatoes. The humble, and very common potato. It is a staple food for most households.

We steam them, we mash them, we bake and we roast them. A very popular, nutritious and delicious comfort food. In fact a very healthy food. It is what we put on them, or how we cook them that changes the health of our potato and so our perception of the potato as being a healthy and valuable food diminishes. People often think of it as a fattening food, however we can’t blame the poor old potato for the lashings of sour cream or butter that we pile onto it. Or for the delicious hot chips that we buy.

The over zealous popularity of the low-carb diets have also given potatoes a hard time. Potatoes are high in carbs and low in protein. They are a vegetable and are meant to be high in carbs and low in protein, as are carrots, pumpkin etc.

When prepared in a healthy way, and consumed in moderation, the health benefits far outweigh the negative reputation potatoes may have had to endure.

Potatoes belong to the nightshade family, and are a good source of vitamins and minerals. Particularly vitamin B6 and vitamin C, copper, potassium and manganese, there is some iron, some calcium, phosphorus and B vitamins, and of course potatoes are a great source of dietary fibre. In an average sized potato there are approximately 150 calories, it will supply 25% of your daily Vit C requirements, 25% of your B6 and 25% of your potassium. Bananas which are well know for their potassium levels, only supply 12 % of your daily potassium levels.

So one little spud will give you all that. Amazing. It will also give you around 21% of your daily requirement of tryptophan, 20% of your manganese, and 15% of your daily fibre needs.

It is good to know that there is more to potatoes than just carbohydrates and calories!

You can buy potatoes loose or in plastic bags. Buy them loose, as it allows you to look at each one and make sure there are no sprouts, no green colouration and no decay or damage spots.

Choose firm potatoes. If they feel a bit spongy they are old. Buy the unwashed potatoes as there is one less treatment on them, and they will last longer in your pantry. Store your potatoes in a dark dry pantry, and store them away from onions. Your potatoes, if purchased when freshly harvested will last a couple of months. Unfortunately it is impossible to know how old the potatoes are in the supermarket or vegetable stall, so check them regularly to make sure they aren’t sprouting or developing any mould or decay.

A fantastic vegetable for those cold winter months.