Health and Nutrition

Potato Health and Nutrition

Potatoes are a wonderfully versatile ingredient but also a fantastic source of potassium and fibre as well as being naturally fat-free and gluten-free. Read on for more on potato nutrition.

Potatoes are a carbohydrate which should be an integral part to our diets – it is an essential nutrient and provides us with energy. “It’s the only energy source readily available for the brain to use,” dietician Aoife Hearne says, “They are a valued part of a balanced and varied diet. And just like other macronutrients - protein and fat - it is the quality and quantity of all these nutrients that is important.”

The potato holds a strong amount of potassium, a nutrient which serves some important functions, including:

  • contributing to normal functioning of the nervous system
  • contributing to normal muscle function
  • contributing to the maintenance of normal blood pressure.

When potatoes are baked, the humble spud is also a fantastic source of thiamin (vitamin B1).

The National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) indicated that potatoes currently make significant contributions to the nation’s average daily intake of many vital nutrients, namely: 

  • 15% of potassium
  • 14% of Vitamin B6 
  • 14% of Vitamin C 
  • 12% of thiamin (Vitamin B1)
  • 10% of folate

There are some additional benefits of including potatoes in your diet including:

  • Source of potassium for normal blood pressure. 
  • Contain a variety of B vitamins for metabolism.
  • Excellent source of vitamin C to support the immune system.
  • Source of calcium, magnesium and phosphorus in smaller amounts

Potatoes and fibre

Potatoes are considered to be a high fibre food, this is because they contain both types of fibre – soluble and insoluble. Both of these types is beneficial to your overall health – they keep you feeling fuller for longer and contribute to a healthy, regular bowel function. Keep the potato skins intact if you’re looking to get the most fibre out of your potato dishes. When it comes to fibre, keeping hydrated is also key – this allows the nutrient to do its work.

Just to give you an idea, 2 medium-sized spuds with skin on will offer you a third of your recommended daily fibre intake.

Potatoes for children

Children can gain more iron, vitamin C, B1, B6, potassium and magnesium from the contribution potatoes offer in their diet than foods such as bananas, beetroot, nuts, avocado and broccoli. They can also be very handy when moving children on to solid foods at the age of 6 months – they can be cooked so they are soft in texture and easily digestible as well as being fat-free and salt-free.

Potatoes and gut health

Gut health is an increasingly important topic in the nutrition world. Potatoes contribute positively to gut health. A gut is determined healthy by the amount of ‘good’ bacteria present. This ‘good’ bacteria is found in diet rich and fibrous foods like potatoes (and other fruit and veg) and plays an important role in supporting immunity.

Potatoes in your diet

Potatoes are often regarded as a high-maintenance food resulting in many resorting to other starchy carb foods such as rice and pasta. The people who avoid the spud is missing out on the vital nutrients found in potatoes.

To give you an idea, a medium jacket potato provides 1/3 of the NRV of  vitamin C compared with 180g of easy cook white rice, boiled, or a 220g portion of white spaghetti, which don't contain any.  

There are plenty of fantastic potato recipes right here on love potatoes for all the family, which are sure to provide inspiration.

Having a wide variety of foods in the diet is important, as no single food can provide us with all the nutrients we need to stay healthy. Good nutrition is essential for normal growth and development, maintaining health and reducing the risk of developing certain diseases, now and in the future.

Who said healthy eating is hard?

Potatoes can be part of your healthful diet plan, especially when eaten with the skin on. They’re a source of fibre and potassium, and are naturally fat free. Indulge guilt-free with these delicious, simple and modern potato recipes featuring important nutrients for a healthy lifestyle.

Healthy eating is all about enjoying your food and eating the right amounts to maintain a healthy weight.

It means eating some food more often than others, such as fruit and vegetables on a daily basis, but having other things as a weekly treat. Find out more in our 'Eat Well' section.

Discover how fibre plays a role in your diet and how the potato contributes. Find out about the difference between soluble and insoluble fibre as well as its many functions.

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This campaign was originally produced in the framework of a programme co-financed by the European Union