The potato is that rare animal, a comfort food that is also good for you. Potatoes figure in almost every cuisine in the world, and there are as many ways of cooking potatoes as there are varieties. If you avoid cooking potatoes in fat, or adding butter or cream to baked potatoes, it’s one of the healthiest foods there is. These are just some of the health benefits of potatoes.
Boosts the immune system
A serving of potatoes in their skins provides almost half of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C. Spanish and English sailors in the 19th century ate potatoes as a way of preventing scurvy. Vitamin C boosts the immune system, helping the body to fight off colds and infections.
Lowers blood pressure
It’s recently been discovered that potatoes contain kukoamines, which have been used in Chinese medicine for centuries to lower blood pressure. It’s not known how many potatoes you’d need to eat to produce this blood pressure lowering effect, but if you eat potatoes most days, you’re probably getting enough kukoamines to make a difference to your blood pressure and your heart health.
Aids digestive health
If you eat your potatoes with the skin on, a serving will provide 12% of your recommended daily fibre intake. That puts potatoes in the hgh fibre league with whole grains, and many people find potatoes more palatable. The indigestable starch in potatoes passes through the digestive system, bulking out waste matter and keeping the bowels regular. This protects against colon cancer and keeps the digestive system healthy.
The potato contains about 60 different phytochemicals and nutrients, mostly located in the skin. Potatoes are high in flavenoids, which lower bad LDL cholesterol in the blood and keep the arteries clear of fat. Vitamin B6, which is present in potatoes, also helps to keep the arteries free from blockage and inflammation by reducing levels of hymocysteine, a substance which is known to contribute to strokes and heart attacks.
Good for a healthy mind and body
The vitamin B6 found in potatoes is necessary for cell renewal. It also benefits the nervous system and lifts your mood. Vitamin B6 is also needed for making the neurotransmitters that send messages to the brain and regulate moods, and adrenaline, the ‘fight or flight’ chemical that helps us to handle stress. Due to their high vitamin B6 levels, potatoes help to give you the ‘feel good factor.’
The humble potato has so many health benefits, it should be compulsory eating for everyone and – unlike some so-called healthy foods – it’s inexpensive and widely available. Serve up some spuds every day – your body will thank you for it.