What Are Potatoes Good For?

Potato: The Golden Crop
Botanical name: Solanum tuberosum

Potato Nutrition Facts

Whether it's mashed or baked, boiled or steamed, fried or sautéed, the potato is a dietary staple around the globe. This root vegetable is a member of the Solanaceae (or nightshade) family, whose members include eggplants, peppers and tomatoes.1 If allowed to fully grow, the potato plant can produce an inedible fruit that resembles a tomato.2

Potatoes originated from South America, specifically in the Andean mountain region. They were later introduced to Europeans by Spanish explorers in the 16th century.3 On many of their voyages, the Spanish used potatoes as a source of vitamin C to combat scurvy.4 Today, this vegetable is cultivated worldwide and is the world's fourth most important crop, with the states of Idaho and Washington as its largest producers.5

There are about 200 types of potatoes sold in the United States today,6 each varying in shape, size, color, flavor and nutritional content. The most common types are white, yellow, red and russet potatoes.

Potatoes are different from sweet potatoes, regardless of their many similarities. Sweet potatoes appear in various colors, including cream/white, orange and purple.7 On the other hand, regular potatoes have a white or pale yellow flesh with brown, red or tan skins.8 Their nutritional profiles also differ from each other; Regular potatoes are high in starches, while sweet potatoes have higher amounts of sugar in the form of sucrose. However, sweet potato outshines potato in the micronutrients department; according to Nutritics, sweet potatoes rank higher in 10 out of 12 nutrients they tested compared to potatoes. These nutrients include iron, calcium and magnesium, as well as vitamins A and C.9

Some varieties of potatoes can be a bane to your health, especially if they're fried. However, moderate consumption amounts and healthful cooking methods can maximize their benefits. Plus, potatoes are very affordable and extremely versatile in the kitchen.

Health Benefits of Potato

Nowadays, potatoes are commonly sold and consumed in the form of greasy French fries or baked potato chips. These processed products are a source of unhealthy fats like trans fat, as well as other processed ingredients and chemical additives. Excessive consumption of processed potatoes may lead to myriad health problems, including obesity, heart problems and even cancer.10,11,12

Minus the unhealthy oils and fats, potatoes are low in calories, and provide fiber and several nutrients.13 Potatoes are a good source of soluble and insoluble fiber, and this may help inhibit constipation14 and lower LDL cholesterol levels.15

Potatoes are one of the most abundant sources of B-vitamins, especially vitamin B6 or pyridoxine, thiamin, niacin, pantothenic acid and folate.16 They're also a great source of minerals like manganese, phosphorus, copper, potassium, magnesium and iron.17 Phytonutrients with antioxidant effects, such as flavonoids and phenolic acids, can also be found in these tubers.18

Take note, however, that cooking methods play a big role in significantly maintaining — and depleting — potatoes' nutritional content. Avoid frying potatoes, especially in vegetable oils. Boiling or baking potatoes is a better option.

What's more, potatoes contain sugar-binding plant proteins called lectins, which act as "antinutrients" that can wreak havoc on your microbiome. Cooking can neutralize the lectins in potatoes, reducing them by 50% to 60%. You can learn more about lectins here.

Potato Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 3.5 ounces (100 grams), flesh and skin, raw
  Amt. Per
% Daily
Calories 77  
Calories from Fat 3  
Total Fat 0.09 g  
Saturated Fat 0 g  
Trans Fat    
Cholesterol 0 mg  
Sodium 6 mg  
Total Carbohydrates 68 g  
Dietary Fiber 2.1 g  
Sugar 0.82 g  
Protein 2.05 g  
Vitamin A 2 IU Vitamin C 19.7 mg
Calcium 12 mg Iron 0.81 mg

Studies on Potato

One study19 conducted by scientists from the Institute for Food Research found that potatoes provide compounds called kukoamines, which aid in lowering blood pressure. These were previously believed to only be found only in an exotic Chinese herbal plant called Lycium chinense, which is used in Chinese infusion herbal medicine. Researchers also stated that both potatoes and the Lycium chinense belong to the same plant family, and that the beneficial compounds were also found in tomatoes.

Potato Healthy Recipes:
Mashed Turnips and Potatoes With Roasted Garlic

Potato Healthy Recipes


1 head garlic

1 teaspoon coconut oil

2 pounds red potatoes, cut into wedges

1 pound turnips, peeled and cut into chunks

1/2 cup raw milk

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground pepper



  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Rub off the excess papery skin from garlic without separating the cloves. Slice the tip off the head, exposing the ends of the cloves. Place the garlic on a piece of foil, drizzle with oil and wrap into a package. Roast until the garlic is golden brown and soft, about 45 minutes. When cool enough to handle, squeeze the cloves and any oil left in the foil into a small bowl.
  3. Meanwhile, combine potatoes and turnips in a large pot and add enough cold water to cover. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain.
  4. Return the potatoes and turnips to the pan and place over medium-low heat. Add the roasted garlic and mash with a potato masher to desired consistency. Stir in milk, Parmesan, thyme, chives, butter, salt and pepper.

(Recipe from Eating Well20)

Potato Fun Facts

Back in the late 1800s, during the Gold Rush, potatoes were as valuable as gold because of their vitamin C content. They were in fact traded for this precious metal, ounce for ounce.21

In October 1995, the white potato became the first crop to be grown in outer space. This was a joint project by NASA and the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Researchers came up with this technology to feed astronauts on long space voyages, and in the hope that it can sustain future space colonies.22


In the time of the Spanish conquistadors, potatoes were already a favorite for their nutritional profile, versatility in cooking and affordable price. These tubers come in various shapes, sizes, color and flavors. Potatoes are rich in vitamins A and C, and B vitamins, as well as certain types of minerals. Some varieties even have phytonutrients that have antioxidant properties.

While they provide numerous beneficial properties, potatoes should only be consumed in moderation and cooked properly, as they contain lectins. Processed potatoes, such as chips and French fries, should be strictly avoided as they contain unhealthful fats and synthetic ingredients that can harm your health.