Are Potatoes Fattening?

Potato is probably the most demonized vegetable! Well, the Department of Health doesn’t even class it as a vegetable! I used to believe that eating potatoes would make me put on weight and went through a period of avoiding them all together! Potatoes are by many associated with unhealthy greasy fast foods and are commonly marketed as that. Is this true? Are potatoes fattening? Should you cut down on potatoes? Are they even nutritionally relevant? You may be surprised…

Are potatoes fattening?

Sweet and White Potato (no butter) Mash hearts with Tofu Scramble, Mushy Peas and Chilli Beans.

POTATOES ARE NOT A VEGETABLE

What doesn’t help, is that the Department of Health (DoH) doesn’t include potato in the ‘five a day’ campaign created (in 2003, UK) to encourage people to eat at least five pieces or fruit and veg each day! This is because according to the DoH: ‘Potatoes are botanically classified as a vegetable, but they are classified nutritionally as a starchy food.”  Read more . Could this be part of the problem as to why some people don’t see potato as healthy and nutrient dense? On the other hand could calling it a vegetable be used as an excuse for eating more fries in order to reach your 5 a day quota? So we could say this: potato is a vegetable, most specifically a tuber and a carbohydrate, but on our plate it acts as starch and doesn’t count as a vegetable just as peas, legumes (beans and lentils) and squash. It is a starchy vegetable high in carbohydrate!

 Nutritional Facts Potato 100g

Sweet potato 100g

Protein  2g  1,6g
Total Carbohydrate  17g  20g
Total Fat  0,1g  0g
Cholesterol  0mg  0mg
Sodium  6mg  55mg
Sugar  0,8g  4,2g
Vitamin A  2 IU(0%)  14187 IU (283%)
Calcium  12mg (1%)  30mg (3%)

As you can see above, potatoes are a fat free and cholesterol free ‘vegetable’. Let me say that again: potatoes are FAT FREE! Not only that, they are packed with essential vitamins and minerals; such as B6, Vitamin C, potassium, calcium, copper, manganese just to name a few. By the way they are also gluten-free. The problem with potatoes is what people put ON them! We deep fry them in fat, add butter to mashed potatoes, dip them in mayo, sprinkle them with oil,  drench them in gravy, cover them in cheese, and overload them with salt! It is precisely these condiments which make us put on weight but the innocent potato is the one to take the blame!

Are potatoes fattening?

White and Sweet Potato Gnocchi with mixed in herbs and spices

NUTRITIONAL BENEFITS

Did you know that sweet potato is considered the more nutrient dense food per its monetary value! What this means is that potatoes give you most for your money in terms of nutrition! Potatoes are also around 74% water which helps keeping your body hydrated! Great if you’re struggling with your water intake. Potatoes are also very filling! This is particularly important as feeling hungry is one of the main reasons as to why people abandon healthy eating! Living on greens and cutting out starches won’t sustain you long term. Who wants to be hungry all the time! Not me that’s for sure! Just to convince you some more, here’s what Dr John A. McDougall M.D. says: “Compared to cheese (4 calories per gram), meat (4 calories per gram), and oils (9 calories per gram) starches contribute only about 1 calorie per gram. They help you feel full for just a quarter of the calories in cheese and meat, ano one-ninth of those in oil.”  (The Starch Solution, p21)

Are potatoes fattening?

Sweet Potato Broccoli ChickPea Pancakes Garnished with Tomato Salsa

WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO EAT POTATOES:

Firstly, wash your potatoes thoroughly enough so you can eat the skin. The skin is supposed to contain 10 times the antioxidant levels than the flesh, this way you’ll also increase your fiber intake necessary for good digestive health! You may be surprised, but to get the most nutrients out of sweet potatoes, we should BOIL THEM! This way they retain most of the cancer fighting  properties as well as help enhance the availability of all other important vitamins! According to Dr. M. Greger M.D.  “baking can cause an 80% drop in Vitamin A”  read more at NutritionFacts.org.

Are potatoes fattening?

Lentil Loaf and Potato Mash Cupcakes

FINAL VERDICT IN  10 POINTS:

1. natural 2. fat and cholesterol free 3. exceptionally healthy 4. affordable 5. filling 6. high in antioxidants and fiber (if eaten with the skin on) 7. high in water content (up to 74%) 8. high in Vitamin A (particularly sweet potato) 9. versatile (see photos and get creative)  10. widely available all year round

 Have you ever avoided potatoes? What’s your favourite  potato dish?

6 Comments

  • Therese Berglund (bet004) from Instagram says:

    You are a talent food artist

    • pj says:

      Hello Therese, Thank you so much for your compliment! You are such a fantastic photographer I always look forward to seeing your photos!
      Have a great day,
      Petra xxx

  • Hitesh Karia says:

    Hi Petra,
    Thanks for the highly informative article. I’m going to get peeling, ( I often eat lunch food for breakfast, as I get bored with porridge) mash with laced with fresh green chillies and coriander or baked with chilli beans, no peeling required.

    • pj says:

      Hello Hitesh,
      Thank you very much for your feedback! Dr McDougall actually recommends potatoes even for breakfast (as long as you don’t add any fat), in fact he says you can eat them for every meal! I read about a guy who ate only potatoes for 30 days and lost a lot of weight and remained super healthy!I would think the addition of chillies (haha) must speed up your metabolism as well as keep you warm! All and all sounds good to me (although i stick with bananas for breakfast sorry)
      Have a great weekend and thanks for your comments I thoroughly enjoy reading them!
      Petra xxx

  • Carla says:

    There are certainly good things about potatoes as you have shown, but I think it’s important that if people eat them, they understand that all potatoes are not created equal. Most potatoes have a high glycemic index, which is not good for blood sugar levels or overall health. The best choices are new potatoes and sweet potatoes as they have a lower GI. Also, eating them with low GI foods, adding some protein and/or healthy fat (e.g. avocado, nuts or seeds) as well as keeping the skin on (as you pointed out) for fibre, will lower the overall GI of a meal. I don’t mean to undervalue all the good points you have made, but just to add some extra info 🙂

    • pj says:

      Thanks Carla, I certainly value your input. Of course there’s so much more that could be added, I mean there are books and websites dedicated purely to potatoes (which I actually enjoy reading) or whatever individual foods! I hope to bring up some interesting points as well as point people in directions of further research if they wish to do so. I appreciate you sharing your knowledge and point of view that’s why we do this! Sweet potatoes seem to be winning the race! I cannot complain hehe!
      xxx

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