A delicious treat that’s warm, indulgent, and familiar. Who doesn’t love a baked potato? But is baked potato a sinful treat or a food that’s good for you? Here’s a closer look so you can make the most of the health benefits of a baked potato without wrecking your diet plan.
A Quick And Easy Energy Source With Vitamins, Minerals, And Fiber
When you have a baked potato cooked in its skin, it retains much of its nutrient content and can be really delicious too. A medium baked potato, cooked with or without salt, has about 161 calories. If you make a meal of a baked potato, you have the benefit of all the vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, folate and other B vitamins, as well as calcium and potassium it contains in its flesh as well as its skin.1
Can Be A Healthy Snack For Weight Watchers
If you are trying to lose weight, you don’t need to avoid baked potatoes altogether. In fact, eating the potato skin and all – provided you don’t douse it with butter, cream, or cheese – can be a healthy way to eat a potato. The fiber content in its skin even lowers the glycemic index of the baked potato overall. Eaten with the skin on, you get around 2.7 gm total fiber from a 100 gm portion versus 1.4 gm of total fiber from eating the flesh of the potato alone.2
Just remember that a potato has around 36.59 gm of carbohydrates and 2 gm of sugar and factor this in your carb count for the day.3
Potassium And Magnesium In Baked Potatoes Great For Heart Health And Blood Pressure
A medium-sized baked potato contains 926 mg of potassium.4 When your diet has a lot of sodium and too little potassium, your blood pressure tends to rise. This causes your heart to work harder to pump blood around your body. Much like the average diet today, rich in processed foods high in salt.5 On the flip side, getting adequate potassium balances out the negative effects of high salt or sodium intake.6 Besides helping lower blood pressure, it can lower risk of heart attacks and strokes as well.7
The magnesium in a baked potato – about 48 mg in a medium baked potato – also has health benefits.8 The recommended intake is between 400 and 420 mg for adults. Higher serum levels of the mineral have been linked to lower cardiovascular disease risk. Magnesium may also help lower risk of stroke.9
Get Half Your Daily Recommended Intake Of Vitamin B6 In A Baked Potato
The recommended daily intake of vitamin B6 is about 1.3 mg and a single baked potato can give you around half that – a medium-sized spud contains 0.538 mg of the nutrient. The vitamin is needed by your body for over a hundred enzyme reactions, including those responsible for protein metabolism. It influences cognitive development, immune function, and hemoglobin formation as well.10
Cool And Eat Your Potatoes To Benefit Even More From Resistant Starch
Baked potatoes can be treated as a source of resistant starch if you cool them after baking. Have them cooled in their skins, use them in salads, or eat them alongside a protein as part of a meal.11
Of the various cooking methods available – including boiling – baking a potato yields the highest levels of resistant starch. And that’s even before you have cooled it.
When cooked and cooled, digestible starches like those in potatoes turn into resistant starches due to a process known as retrogradation. The change they undergo prevents digestive enzymes from digesting them. This makes them behave much as fibers do in your body, helping improve colon health and possibly even reducing triglyceride and cholesterol levels in the body.12
Baked Potatoes Pack In More Nutrients Than Boiled Or Fried Potatoes
If you’re wondering how a baked potato compares to a portion of fries or a boiled potato, here’s a quick look.
- A boiled potato eaten without the skin has just about 379 mg of potassium, 22 mg of magnesium, 1.8 gm of fiber, and 0.299 mg of vitamin B6 per 100 gm
- A 100 gm portion of french fried potatoes has 400 mg of potassium, 21 mg of magnesium, 1.9 gm of fiber, and 0.168 mg of vitamin B6
- A 100 gm portion of baked potato has 535 mg of potassium, 28 mg of magnesium, 2.2 gm of fiber, and 0.311 mg of Vitamin B6. 13 14 15
Baked potatoes have fewer calories than French fries but slightly more calories than boiled potatoes. But they are still a better tradeoff because of the resistant starch and fiber in the skin, which keep you full for longer. And you get more nutrients from a baked potato.
If calories are a concern, here’s how they fare:
- French fried potatoes pack in 133 calories per 100 gm serving. Plus, you should also consider the fat intake when you fry your potatoes. This will go up depending on how you fry them, how much fat the fries absorb, and the kind of oil you use.
- Boiled potatoes are a more modest 87 calories in a similar portion
- A baked potato may have slightly more calories than boiled potatoes – 93 calories per 100 gm – but is more filling due to the higher level of resistant starch and fiber in the skin.
Baked Potatoes Are Virtually Fat-Free: The Fats Are Added When You Cook Them
Potatoes often get a bad rap for no fault of theirs! With French fries almost being synonymous with potatoes, it isn’t hard to see why this humble spud is considered a guilty treat laden with fat. But in reality, a potato, especially if it is a baked potato, can be quite good. A medium sized potato may contain just about 0.22 gm of fat. Plus, there are all the nutrients from vitamins A, C, B to minerals like potassium and magnesium you’d be getting when you have one as a snack or meal.16 So, up that goodness further by avoiding toppings like butter, cheese, and fatty meats. Instead, top your baked potato with a freshly dressed salad and vinaigrette, swap a red meat chili with a lighter chicken or turkey mince, and cut the amount of salt you season it with.
Avoid Excessive Potassium Intake From Baked Potatoes If You Have Kidney Problems
If you’re struggling with kidney problems and have chronic kidney disease, your body is not equipped to remove excess potassium from the blood. If that’s the case or if you are on a diet that restricts the amount of potassium you can have, baked potatoes, or indeed any kind of potatoes, may not be your best dietary choice. Instead, choose other fruit and vegetables low in potassium to meet your vitamin and mineral needs and to get to your five fresh fruits and veggies a day.17
|↑1, ↑3, ↑4, ↑8, ↑15, ↑16||Potatoes, baked, flesh and skin, with salt. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑2||Aston, Louise M., Joanna M. Gambell, David M. Lee, Susan P. Bryant, and Susan A. Jebb. “Determination of the glycaemic index of various staple carbohydrate-rich foods in the UK diet.” European journal of clinical nutrition 62, no. 2 (2008): 279-285.|
|↑5||Potassium and sodium out of balance. Harvard Health Publishing.|
|↑6, ↑17||Potassium. U.S. National Library of Medicine.|
|↑7||Potassium. University of Maryland Medical Center.|
|↑9||Magnesium.Office of Dietary Supplements.|
|↑10||Vitamin B6. Office of Dietary Supplements.|
|↑11||Raatz, Susan K., Laura Idso, LuAnn K. Johnson, Matthew I. Jackson, and Gerald F. Combs. “Resistant starch analysis of commonly consumed potatoes: Content varies by cooking method and service temperature but not by variety.” Food chemistry 208 (2016): 297-300.|
|↑12||Fuentes-Zaragoza, E., M. J. Riquelme-Navarrete, E. Sánchez-Zapata, and J. A. Pérez-Álvarez. “Resistant starch as functional ingredient: A review.” Food Research International 43, no. 4 (2010): 931-942.|
|↑13||Potatoes, boiled, cooked in skin, flesh, without salt. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑14||Potatoes, french fried, steak fries, salt added in processing, frozen, as purchased. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|