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The underappreciated benefits of potatoes

Oleg ShvetsFood
The underappreciated benefits of potatoes

For a long time, potatoes have been associated with unhealthy eating patterns and bad eating habits. Potato dishes are present on the menu of all fast food outlets. But in reality, they deserve better recognition as a component of a balanced diet.

Potato dishes are consumed by most Ukrainian families. It is easy to grow, and moreover, planting, caring for, and harvesting potatoes is a long-standing tradition with existential implications. Finally, potatoes are affordable and contain many beneficial nutrients, which is worth explaining in detail.

NUTRIENTS

Potatoes are a great source of vitamins and minerals. One medium baked potato (173 grams), including the skin, contains 161 calories, 0.2 grams of fat, 4.3 grams of protein, 36.6 grams of carbohydrates, and 3.8 grams of fiber. It also contains vitamins

C (28% of the daily value), B6 (27%), potassium (26%), manganese (19%), magnesium

(12%), phosphorus (12%), niacin (12%), folic acid (12%).

The nutritional content of potatoes varies depending on the variety and method of cooking. Frying adds more calories and fat than baking. Many vitamins and minerals are contained in the skin of the potato. Therefore, peeling significantly reduces its nutritional content.

ANTIOXIDANTS

Potatoes contain compounds such as flavonoids, carotenoids, and phenolic acids. In the body, they act as antioxidants, neutralizing free radicals. These harmful molecules accumulate as a result of oxidative stress and increase the risk of chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

An in vitro study showed that the antioxidants present in potatoes can inhibit the growth of liver and colon cancer cells. Other studies have found that colored potatoes, such as purple, contain three to four times more antioxidants than white potatoes. This makes these varieties potentially more effective in neutralizing free radicals.

At the same time, these studies were conducted exclusively in laboratory conditions and need to be verified in human observations.

CONTROLLING BLOOD SUGAR LEVELS

Potatoes contain a special type of starch called resistant starch. It is not broken down, but is fully absorbed by the body.

Studies have linked resistant starch to many health benefits, including reduced insulin resistance, which improves blood sugar control.

A study of people with type 2 diabetes found that eating foods with resistant starch helped to better eliminate excess blood sugar after meals. In another study, ten people received 30 grams of resistant starch daily for four weeks. The researchers found that the starch reduced insulin resistance by 33%.

The content of resistant starch increases when boiled potatoes are stored in the refrigerator and consumed cold. But of course, not everyone will find this option tasty.

HEALTHY DIGESTION

Resistant starch in potatoes has a positive effect on the digestive process. In the large intestine, when it interacts with friendly bacteria, it is converted into the short-chain fatty acid butyrate, an extremely important postbiotic or the result of the activity of commensal bacteria.

According to research, butyrate reduces inflammation in the colon, strengthens colon defense, and reduces the risk of colorectal cancer. In addition, it may help patients with inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis and diverticulitis.

GLUTEN-FREE

Gluten is a vegetable protein found in the grains of cereal plants (spelt, wheat, barley and rye).

People with celiac disease have significant clinical manifestations when consuming foods containing gluten. Symptoms of gluten intolerance include acute stomach pain, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, and skin rashes.

If you are following a gluten-free diet, potatoes are a great alternative in your diet. They are naturally gluten-free, so eating them doesn't cause any unpleasant effects. Please note that some cooked potato dishes, such as potato bread, may contain gluten ingredients.

SATISFACTION

In one study, 11 people were fed 38 common foods and asked to rate them according to how full they felt. Potatoes received the highest score of all. It was seven times more satisfying than croissants, which were recognized as the least satisfying food.

Food that satiates well suppresses hunger. Thus, it helps to regulate weight and even lose weight. According to some reports, potato protein, a potato proteinase 2 (PI2) inhibitor, can curb appetite. Most likely, it increases the release of cholecystokinin (CCK), a hormone that promotes a feeling of fullness.

VERSATILITY

Potatoes can be cooked in a variety of ways: boiled, baked, and steamed. Keep in mind that when frying, the calorie content of potatoes increases dramatically if you use a lot of oil. Instead, try slicing the potatoes and then baking them in the oven with a small drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and rosemary.

To maximize the nutrients, don't peel the skin off the potatoes - bake or boil them "in their skins."

Studies have linked the nutritional properties of potatoes to a number of exceptional health benefits, such as controlling blood sugar, reducing the risk of heart disease and boosting the immune system. They can also improve digestive health and fight the signs of aging.

So, when consumed in moderation, potatoes are a healthy part of the diet, especially when you prefer cooking them other than frying.

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