There are many varieties of potato, but yams and sweet potatoes are not among them; they are not even related to the white potato, which is a member of the nightshade family, and is related to peppers and tomatoes. For most North Americans, potatoes are a major component of the diet - usually in processed forms that are high in fat and salt.
Potatoes are surprisingly delicious and low in calories. When eaten with the skin, they are high in complex carbohydrates and fibre; one medium-sized baked potato (with the skin) provides 25 mg of vitamin C, which is 25% of the adult Recommended Dietary Allowance, along with a good supply of vitamin B6, thiamine, niacin, and magnesium, 800 mg of potassium, and a moderate amount of zinc. The skins are rich in chlorogenic acid, a phytochemical that has anti-cancer properties.
Potatoes have a relatively high glycemic index (GI), which may be an issue for diabetics or people trying to lose weight by following a low-GI diet. Many people think potatoes are fattening, but this is determined by the way they are prepared.
- The average potato has approximately 120-150 calories, a small amount of protein, and almost no fat. The same potato turned into potato chips has 450-550 calories and up to 35 grams of fat; 115 grams of french fries contain about 300 calories and 15-20 grams of fat.
- Baking, steaming, or microwaving a potato preserves the maximum amount of nutrients.
- Don't store potatoes and onions together; the acids in the onions aid the decomposition in the potatoes, and vice-versa.