Potatoes have gotten a bad rap in recent years because they are often thought to cause weight gain. However, they are a highly nutritious food. When prepared in a healthy way, the potato benefits the body by lowering blood pressure, protecting against cardiovascular disease, has antioxidant effects, and assists with proper cell formation and neurological activity.
1. Full of Important Nutrients
Potatoes are high in fiber and low in calories. They contain vitamin C, vitamin B6, copper and manganese. They also contain potassium, which helps to offset high sodium content in the diet. Additionally, potatoes contain phytonutrients and proteins that have antioxidant properties.
Potatoes do lead to weight gain if fried with unhealthy oils, smothered in butter and consumed in great amounts. French fries and baked potatoes with butter and sour cream are not exactly the foods you reach for when you’re looking to add nutrition to your diet. However, the whole potato, when baked or steamed and eaten with the skin, is a highly nutritious food. In an experiment during World War II, Danish food scientists attempted to live only on whole potatoes. They did so successfully for three full years.
2. Lower Blood Pressure
Potatoes are known to contain kukoamines, a compound that lowers blood pressure. Scientists note that this compound has only been found in an exotic herbal plant, lyceum chinense, the bark of which is used in Chinese medicine. The knowledge that potatoes help to lower blood pressure is useful because they are a common food in the West and are easily accessible, making their regular inclusion in the diet very simple.
3. Protect the Heart
The high vitamin B6 content in potatoes has tremendous cardiovascular benefits. In general, diets that are high in this vitamin are associated with lower heart disease rates. Vitamin B6 plays a critical role in keeping homocysteine levels low. When homocysteine levels are high, the risk for heart attack and stroke increases. Potatoes and other vitamin B6-rich foods, therefore, help to protect the heart.
4. Build Cells
In addition to cardiovascular protection, vitamin B6 is involved in cell formation throughout the body. Potatoes, being high in vitamin B6, help to build new cells and also play a role in neurological activity and in brain cells. A vitamin B6 deficiency can lead to depression, sleeplessness, abnormal brain function and an inability for the body to respond properly to stress. Regular inclusion of potatoes in your diet is a good way to safeguard against the problems caused by a vitamin B6 deficiency.
Potatoes are full of nutrition. They offer numerous health benefits ranging from aiding in proper cell formation, to providing cardiovascular protection, to lowering blood pressure. For potatoes to be a truly nutritious addition to the diet, be sure to bake, boil or lightly saute them. Heavy frying and addition of oils and butter makes the potato unhealthy for consumption on a daily basis. However, when prepared in a more healthy way, you can enjoy this high-fiber, low-calorie food frequently and benefit from its numerous healing properties.