Simply Potatoes, Simply Good for You

I make a point of trying to eat a seasonal diet and nothing signals winter in Shanghai better than the lovely aroma of street side baked sweet potatoes. I get warm just thinking about them.

Generally winter means hearty meals and there isn’t any vegetable quite as hearty a potato. I am going to include all potatoes in this category, from White to Sweet to Purple and Pink. Now the simple potato has been quite the  controversial vegetable. It has gone from the staple of many an Irishman to being banished from the table because of its fluffy  carbohydrates. Recently even the US government tried to eliminate potatoes from school lunch programs. Fortunately for the sake of good nutrition, potatoes have their own powerful lobby in Washington D.C. and the spuds can still be found in school cafeterias.

I am here to set the record straight on potatoes. Part of the US governments claim was that potatoes do not offer significant nutrition. I will agree that not all potatoes were created equal, which is ok because that means you should eat all kinds of potatoes for the best nutrition, but they all have something good to offer. What all potatoes do share is a decent amount of protein , averaging about 2.5 gm per 100 gm serving, an abundance of carbohydrates, about 20 gm per 100 gm, and no fat to speak of.  So even without going into the micronutrients and the trendy antioxidants, potatoes can hold their heads high, nutritionally speaking. Take that Uncle Sam!

Lets not stop there because potatoes deserve to be eaten. Worried about the carbohydrates? You shouldn’t be because some of the carbohydrates are in the form of fiber, averaging from 2- 4 gm/serving depending on the variety. In case you didn’t know, fiber is essential for good digestion, supporting those good bacteria in the gut and is helpful in reducing cholesterol.

Each variety of potato has their own nutrition specialty too. Sweet potatoes , the ones appearing on the Shanghai winter streets are powerhouses of Vitamin A, a whole 384% of the recommended daily value in a 100 gm serving ( which is about 1/2 of one of those street side potatoes). White potatoes, the belittled sister, is  a good source of iron (1.5 the amount found in sweet potatoes). Iron deficiency anemia is one  of the most common worldwide disorders.

You may have noticed the appearance of purple and pink potatoes in the shops and from the online grocers. These stylish “newcomers” have their own advantages. Along with the nutrients found in sweet and white potatoes, these colorful cousins from South America are rich in anthocyanins and carotenoids, natural anti-oxidants that help reduce the risk of many a chronic disease.

Potatoes are filling, comforting , nutritious and a great addition to your wintertime menu. So definitely pass me the potatoes!

Eat Well, Live Well, Have Fun!