Potatoes or Solanum Tuberosum L are originated from South America. Potatoes are member of the nightshade family like tomatoes, eggplants and peppers. Studies suggest that potatoes has been widely grown by the Indians in an area named Andes, until it was spread outside of the region about four centuries ago. According to the U.S Department of Agriculture, potatoes is now on the fourth place of world’s most consumed crop. China leads the world in potatoes production, then comes along India and Russia in the second and third place respectively.
When it comes to cook potatoes, there a lot of ways to do it such as deep frying, boiling, baking, roasting or microwaving. When we think about potatoes, some of us might consider potatoes as a side dish. They are usually served as a company for main course, like steak or grilled chicken. Apparently, potatoes are one of the healthiest food especially when it is baked. Potatoes contain important nutrients such as calcium, fiber, kukoamines, sodium, vitamin C and vitamin D. Baking a potato is the best way to ensure most of the nutrients stay. Here are 7 healthy benefits of baked potatoes that probably make you want to put baked potatoes on you the top of your daily diet:
- To help losing weight
Important benefits of baked potatoes is for losing weight. Women need 25 grams of fiber, whereas men need 38 grams on a daily basis. U.S. Government’s 2015 Dietary Guidelines suggests potatoes as a good source of fiber. Baked potatoes help in losing weight substantially as they contain high dietary fiber. Fiber is an essential agent for digestion. It boosts our digestive system to distribute nutrients throughout our body and cleanse waste in our intestine more easily. Thus, the risk of constipation or other digestive problems is depleted. A high dietary fiber also helps in keeping us full longer, so you are less likely fall in to binge-eating temptation.
- To act as antioxidant
Vitamin C in baked potatoes help our body to neutralize the negative effects of free radical. The ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) is a method of measuring the antioxidant capacity of foods and supplements. According to ORAC score, sweet potatoes baked with the skin score an 2115, whereas white potatoes baked with the skin score 1138. Sweet potatoes are rich with beta-carotene as well. Beta-carotene can help reduce the risk of lung cancer, as shown by studies at Harvard University;
- To reduce blood cholesterol
The fiber found in potatoes help keeping cholesterol in low level. First it ties up with cholesterol. Then it takes cholesterol out along through digestive metabolism;
- To boost immune system
A serving of 184 grams plain baked potatoes provide at least 24 miligrams of vitamin C. It is almost half of what our body requires daily. As we know, vitamin C helps greatly in promoting immune system;
- To promote bones health
Baked potatoes provide high amount of calcium and iron which contribute to the developing and maintaining of bones. Calcium helps in bones structure. Iron helps in producing collagen which in turn provides structural and strength to the bones;
- To maintain blood pressure level
Most important health benefits of baked potatoes could help lowering blood pressure level. Baked potatoes contain potassium and sodium which come in handy to keep blood pressure at low level. In the other hand, a metobolomics research held by the Institute for Food Research have found compounds called kukoamines in potatoes. Kukoamines are believed to be an agent of lowering blood pressure;
- To reduce stress level
Baked potatoeses contain Vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 has a significant role in our neurological activities. It is used to develop amines, a type of neurotransmitter. Our brain used neurotransmitter to tell our body to function properly. It also affects our mood. Serotonin is the type of neurotransmitter which controls our mood. There is also other essential neurotransmitter such as dopamine which is responsible for our drive or motivation. It’s no wonder that some people consider baked potatoes as a comfort food because it gives off a calming effect from Vitamin B6.
After we know the goodness come from eating baked potatoes, the next step is to understand how to pick out raw potatoes and store them. Try to buy from a bulk display as it can allow to inspect the potatoes better. Avoid readily-cleaned potatoes since they are usually coated with chemicals. Do not buy potatoes which already have sprout or gree coloration as it is a sign of solanine content. Solanine can cause many health problems including diarrhea. You should keep them in a dark and dry place to prevent them from dehydrating. Wrap them up with a burlap or a paper bag. Remember to not let potatoes exposed with direct sunlight for a long time as it can cause solanine to develop. Potatoes should not be stored in the refrigerator as it may change the taste. Well, potatoes are quite handy for sure.
Last but not the least, the source of dietary fiber in a potatoes is mostly on the skin. So to get maximum benefit of them, do not peel the skin when baked. If you choose to peel the skin, remove only a thin layer in order to keep all the good nutrients stay. Do not bake them too long as it can suck the nutrients off them. Cleanse dirt from the skin under cold running water. Make sure to cut off any eyes or sprouts. Try not to add high-calories topping such as bacon, butter or cheese. It can lead to diabetes, heart attack and weight gain. You can choose other weight-friendly alternatives instead, such as greek yogurt or broccoli. Instead of salt, you can season your baked potatoeses with fresh herbs (thyme or basil) and spices (black pepper or paprika). Stay healthy and bon appetite!