Potatoes are one of the most healthy foods. They’re like kings around the plant-based world. We love them and encourage you to eat as many as you can!

Unfortunately, the PR for potatoes hasn’t been too good over the years. You may be one of the many people who worries you’ll gain weight or get diabetes when eating potatoes.

The opposite is true!

Potatoes are not the enemy. It’s the butter, oil, cheese and other gooey things we put on potatoes that make them unhealthy.

How potatoes are healthy, the benefits

You literally could live on potatoes. Maybe not literally, but pretty close. This guy did for a year! He had all kinds of health and weight problems and ate only potatoes for a year. Everything reversed! Listen to his story, it’s pretty incredible.

While you don’t have to go to the extreme Andrew “Spud Fit” Taylor did, it’s a great idea to include potatoes in your everyday eating pattern.

Low in calorie, no fat or cholesterol, potatoes also offer protein, fiber, and more potassium than a banana!

Image from reddit.com

Take a look at the nutrition facts from https://nutritiondata.self.com.

Nutrition of 1 small russet potato (100g)

  • Calories 97
  • Fat 0g
  • Cholesterol 0g
  • Protein 2.6g
  • Carbohydrate 21g
  • Fiber 2g
  • Vitamin C 22% of RDI
  • Vitamin B6 18% of RDI
  • Potassium 16% of RDI (bananas are 10%)

Nutrition of 1 medium baked sweet potato (100g)

  • Calories 90
  • Fat 0g
  • Cholesterol 0g
  • Protein 2g
  • Carbohydrate 21g
  • Fiber 3g
  • Vitamin A 384% of RDI
  • Vitamin C 22% of RDI
  • Vitamin B6 14% of RDI
  • Potassium 14% of RDI
  • Manganese 25% of RDI

See, potatoes have plenty to offer. They keep you full and satiated, while also helping to lower cholesterol and blood sugar.

While the sweet potato is the healthiest option, all the potatoes are beneficial. Even the russet. The deep orange color in sweet potatoes makes them higher in antioxidants and phytonutrients.

In addition to helping you feel full, the fiber in potatoes supports gut health. Potatoes are a resistant starch, like a prebiotic, which is food for your microbiome.

Diabetics can eat potatoes too

Both type 1 and type 2 diabetics in our practice who eat lots of potatoes still drop their sugars and A1c’s.
Furthermore, potatoes are great for weight loss, which of course helps with diabetes.

It’s not the starch in the potato that drives up the blood sugar. It’s the added fats.

Butter, oil, cheese and gooey foods get into your cells and create insulin resistance. The fat inside the cells makes it hard for insulin to attach and allow glucose in. When you remove the fat, insulin can do its’ job and blood sugars come down.

It’s not the potato, it’s the fat. Take a look at potatoes vs. potato chips:

  • One pound of potatoes is about two potatoes, has 220 calories and 0 grams of fat.
  • One pound of potato chips is 16 individual bags of chips, like the ones you get at the deli, and they have 2,560 calories and 171 grams of fat. Woah!

What’s the difference? First, they took out all the water and the fiber of the potato and second they added a ton of oil to make them crunchy.

ct lifestyle medicine potatoes are healthy roasted without oil
Fingerling potatoes, roasted on parchment paper

What about a simple baked potato with butter and sour cream?

  • Potato – 110 calories, 0 grams of fat
  • Butter (both vegan and regular butter) – 100 calories, 11 grams of fat. That’s if you only use one tablespoon!
  • Sour cream – 90 calories and 9 grams of fat.

So, is it the potato’s fault? No, it’s the added fat. This fat causes weight gain, insulin resistance and even clogged arteries.

Simply naked, without the butter, oil and cheese, they’re a perfect low-calorie food. Now, how do you eat potatoes without butter, oil or cheese?

Eating potatoes without butter, oil or cheese

Start by cooking them whichever way you prefer. Steamed, baked, boiled, smashed, mashed, wedged, quartered, air fried, roasted, toasted…there are many possibilities.

Add your favorite seasonings: everything but the bagel seasoning, truffle salt, Mrs Dash, cumin, paprika, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper.

Instead of using oil to coat them before baking:

  • rinse the potato,
  • slice and dice,
  • season, and
  • bake on parchment paper or throw in the air fryer.

We promise you won’t miss the oil, which adds 120 calories and 14 grams of fat per tablespoon!

ct lifestyle medicine potatoes are healthy airfyer
Air-fried potatoes, yes the air fryer is worth it!

Another option is potato hash in the skillet. Add a little water to the pan and then cover. Stir every now and then to keep from sticking to the pan. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up cooked bits.

Once cooked use condiments and sauces to flavor. There’s endless options.

Here’s a few of our favorite toppings:

  • salt and pepper,
  • ketchup,
  • mustards – all the mustards,
  • nutritional yeast,
  • barbecue sauce,
  • hummus,
  • bean chili,
  • barbecue beans,
  • pickled onion or beets,
  • balsamic glaze,
  • and quite possibly our favorite, mushroom gravy.

Making potatoes a healthy meal

Pair potatoes with beans and greens for a real win. You’ll feel stuffed and you’ll have a well-rounded meal packed with fiber and nutrients.

ct lifestyle medicine potatoes are healthy wedges bbq beans
Simple dinner of potato wedges and BBQ beans

Here’s some of our other favorite potato recipes:

Eating potatoes hits you right in the middle of the esophagus – right where comfort food hits.

Fills you up and makes you feel satiated. Plus, everyone loves them.

If you want more help with your potato journey, get in touch with us.

In the meantime, eat up! Keep the oily, fatty, gooiness off. And finally, try all the varieties – sweet, russet, yellow, Japanese.