Health Benefits of Potatoes - 
Potassium-Rich, Weight Loss Friendly

The health benefits of potatoes are impressive!  It's unfortunate that they have received a bad wrap by many health coaches and low carb dieters. 

According to Henry Lu's Chinese System of Food Cures, potatoes have a neutral thermal effect, a sweet flavor, and they heal inflammation, supplement energy, and fortify the spleen, which in Chinese medicine refers, at least in part, to the digestive system in tandem with the stomach and pancreas.

Potatoes from garden - yellow & purple in steamer basket

The Flavor-full Health Benefits of Potatoes Shine When Homegrown!

The health benefits of potatoes (and their flavor) really shine when they are homegrown!   Potatoes are actually a favorite vegetable for many Americans. They are an affordable source of calories, and some homesteaders are finding them easy to grow ~ whether in containers for those with limited space, using the Ruth Stout method, or even in straw.  

Just for the heck of it, in 2022, we decided to experiment ourselves, and planted a few sprouted spuds in a straw bale we had purchased last fall to cover our strawberries. We planted sweet potatoes in some affordable fabric containers we found on Amazon.  In 2022, we netted around 16 pounds of sweet potatoes, and a variety of potatoes.  In 2023, we had another great crop of super tasty red skin, yellow, and purple potatoes, however, our sweet potato harvest was not quite as bountiful as the previous year.

Potatoes from the garden, red skinHomegrown red skin potatoes
Potatoes from the garden, purple Homegrown purple potatoes

Potatoes are easy to prepare in a myriad of ways, including baking, or adding to stews or soups. After reading about potato health benefits, you may be inspired to grab your favorite spuds and get cooking.

I included several photos for recipe inspiration.   Check back, bookmark or subscribe to be alerted when any new recipes are posted. 

Potatoes Steamed and seasonedEnjoy the health benefits of potatoes without all the fat by steaming or roasting and seasoning as desired
Potato, Baked Russet topped with nutritional yeast, along with green beans & pea podsNutritional yeast is great on top of baked potatoes ~ add a squeeze of lemon, or a little dijon mustard, salsa, ketchup, high lignan flax oil or vegan butter for a diet friendly main meal ~ eat enough, and serve with QB Greens or Veggies

A Few Health Benefits of Potatoes 

Potato Health Benefit #1 - Potassium

The primary reason we love both potatoes and winter squash ~ nutritionally speaking ~ are because both are an excellent source of potassium, which protects against the damaging effects of dietary salt and high-sodium diets.

If interested in learning more about salt, I recommend The Salt Solution, by Herb Boynton, or Salt and the Seven Deadly Ills, by Karel Sporek, a chemist.  After years of experimenting, we have found that the quantity and quality of salt versus salty condiments, as well as the season, and context of the entire diet, are all factors to keep in mind when determining how much added sodium is optimal for you.  Animal-free dieters may require or need some extra sodium, compared to those consuming higher sodium meats

Potato Health Benefit #2 - High Satiety

According to one study designed to determine a valid satiety index (SI) score of foods, gave small groups of subjects foods from six food groups ~ fruits, bakery products, snack foods, carbohydrate-rich foods, protein-rich foods, and breakfast cereals. Satiety ratings were obtained every 15 min for two hours, after which subjects were free to eat as much as they wanted from a range of foods and beverages provided. They calculated an SI score, and found boiled potatoes produced the highest satiety index. 

While many low carb health coaches may recommend against eating potatoes, the fact is, it’s what is added to potatoes that effects their nutritional value. 

Potatoes, Steamed and Seasoned2Steamed potatoes seasoned with paprika, cumin and chili powder, and/or garlic and onion powder and pepper along with fresh or dried parsely
Potato Mushroom & Greens HashPreviously steamed or roasted potatoes becomes the next days Potato Hash ~ add greens, diced peppers, onions, mushrooms, green chiles, or whatever you like! Sauté in a small amount of oil, or cook with a little broth for oil-free cooking. I like adding a little hot sauce + San-J Tamari Lite.

Do Potatoes Make You Fat?  Health Benefits of Potatoes for Weight Loss

Potato Benefits #3 - Affordability and Availability

As already mentioned, potatoes are a widely available and affordable source of calories that are easy to prepare in a myriad of ways.  But if you still need more convincing, here are a few more potato health benefits:

Health Benefits of Potatoes #4 - Weight Loss Friendly

Actually, another potato health benefit is that it's a weight loss friendly food ~ as long as you steer clear of high fat and sodium toppings.  In part because of their high satiety.  The fiber and water content of potatoes and low total calories combined with the second health benefit of potatoes listed above, their high level of satiety, make potatoes very weight loss friendly.  The key is to avoid high-fat toppings and cooking methods.

According to the PubMed article, White Potatoes, Human Health, and Dietary Guidance:

“White potatoes are considered a high-calorie food compared with other staple foods, such as rice and pasta. however, potatoes actually have less energy (94 kcal/100g) than most other staple foods when compared on a gram-weight basis while providing substantial amounts of critical nutrients.”

Potatoes are often prepared in and/or served with high fat (and high-sodium) toppings.

For example, topping the humble baked potato with butter, bacon bits (also salty), cheese (more salt), and/or sour cream quickly increases the total calories.  

According to Cronometer, an app for monitoring your daily food intake, the total calories of a plain, medium-sized 173 gram unsalted baked potato, flesh and skin is 161 calories, and contains 4.6 grams or protein, 36.6 grams of carbohydrate, .2 grams of fat, and 3.8 grams of fiber.  

Well, top that same potato with just one teaspoon each of salted butter ~ what is offered at most restaurants ~ and sour cream, and the total calories have increased to 204, with a total of 5 grams of fat.  From less than one half of a gram to five grams is significant, when considering the total calories consumed throughout the day.

Add 1 tablespoon of shredded cheddar cheese, and the total calories increases to 233, with over 7 g of fat.  These are modest amounts, but as you can see, the nutritional profile can change quickly, especially when mindlessly adding toppings without monitoring measurements.

Potato Corn SoupPotato Corn & Vegetable Soup
Potato & Pinto Bean SoupPotato & Pinto Bean Soup

Health Benefits of Potatoes #5 - Potatoes are Nutrient-Rich!

I already mentioned that potatoes are great sources of potassium.   And, that they are relatively low in calories, and contain 3.8 grams of both soluble and insoluble fiber.  The different types of fiber provide differing functions. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water, and therefore adds bulk to the stool. It can have a laxative effect. Soluble fiber dissolves in water, creating a gel-like substance that helps regulate digestion, and can slow down absorption of sugar, and help lower cholesterol. Hence, potatoes can even be enjoyed when properly prepared by diabetics.

But wait, there's more nutritional health benefits to be had in those spuds!

That same medium-sized potato mentioned above also contains 926 mg of potassium, 17.3 mg of sodium, along with vitamins C, K, and B6 and other B vitamins, iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, zinc, and other vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.  Not bad, right?

Plus, those potatoes are a good source of protein!   Surprised?

In his classic, 1971 book, Are You Confused?, Dr. Paavo Airola, writes:

"Research from one of the leading institutions for nutritional research in the world, the Max Plank Institute in Germany, showed that many vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts and grains are excellent sources of complete proteins. This is corroborated by research from many other research centers. Soybeans, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, almonds, potatoes, and most fruits and green vegetables contain complete proteins."

~Dr. Paavo Airola, Are You Confused?

Airola goes on to write:

"Potatoes, a stepchild of American nutrition, are actually excellent health food and a good source of superior quality proteins. In Germany, ten percent of the average dietary intake of protein is obtained from potatoes. It has been demonstrated that people have lived on potatoes as the sole source of proteins as long as six years and enjoyed excellent health."

You can see how potatoes are adding up to be a healthy, diet friendly food!   That is, when you enjoy simple potato recipes that are low in sodium, and lower in fat.

Potato Wedges Roasted
Potatoes sliced thin, and roasted with onions

For a full nutritional break down, including caloric differences depending upon how you cook your potatoes, refer back to the PubMed article cited above.

In summary, potatoes are a great source of plant based calories, and can be grown in containers, straw bales, or other methods. (See the collapsable growing bags we use, above.)  Try growing a few spuds, or buying some from your local farmers market. 

Then bake, roast, steam, mash, scallop, or pan or air fry some potatoes today!  Air fryers are especially beneficial for creating that crispy fried texture, without needing oil.   Ideal for weight loss, and weight management, and clean up is a breeze.  Check out my links, below.  

A few resources to help you take advantage of the health benefits of potatoes, while minimizing added fat

Please note that this website uses an Amazon affiliate account.  Any purchases made through any of the links below and throughout the text are greatly appreciated!  I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you which helps support me as I continue to provide informational content and more delicious recipes.  Several links are for outside resources, and are for informational purposes only.

Have you tried purple potatoes yet?  They are denser with maybe a little sweeter or richer flavor.   (I am going off my memory at the moment.)  If not, what's your favorite type of potato, and your favorite ways to prepare them?  Leave a comment, or share your favorites, below.

What's your favorite spud, and how do you like them?

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