Monday, March 16, 2009

Pitty the Poor Potato

Pitty the poor potato. The humble spud has been hit right between the eyes by the just-say-no- to-carbs craze. If an entree comes with a potato side dish, dieting diners demand their waiter substitute broccoli or green beans. ( even if the green vegetables are drowning in butter or cheese sauce) Baked potatoes have been banished in favor of sweet potatoes on many menus because the deep orange root vegetable ranks higher in nutrition concentration of vitamin A and is supposedly easier on the glycemic index than the regular white potato. But, before you malign another mashed potato, let's revisit the nutrition facts involved. Potatoes are actually diet and nutrition good guys.

A five-ounce potato provides just 100 calories, for which you get 35 percent of a day’s recommended vitamin C, nearly two times as much potassium as a banana, 20 percent of the vitamin B6, 15 percent of the iodine, 10 percent each of B vitamin niacin, iron and copper, and 6 percent of the protein.
Try potatoes baked, boiled or steamed. Top with a little low fat sour cream or yogurt mixed with dried herbs and you've got a delicious side dish.

Deep fry potatoes and you can add 100 calories per ounce. Frying does that to foods. So French fries don't fit into the diet category- low carb or high carb.
Here's what really matters. If you consume potatoes with a meal then their effect on blood sugar is greatly reduced. So the glycemic load of the total meal is lower than the glycemic index number for the potato alone. Fiber, protein and fat help reduce the effect on blood sugar levels. So enjoy baked chicken, green beans and mashed redskin potatoes. Or savor beef stew, chock full of vegetables with some boiled new potatoes. This is another reason nutritionists advise eating balanced meals that include a variety of foods.

A new survey by the Idaho Potato Commission (IPC) reveals that Americans love their spuds. There’s no doubt, potatoes remain a relished dish on the national table – survey results confirm that potatoes are “America’s favorite vegetable.” When asked to select their favorite vegetable, consumers picked potatoes (26%), corn (19%) and broccoli (17%). When eating a potato, leave the skin on for added fiber and nutrients.

So, how do we savor our spuds? When it comes to cooking up the tuber, Americans keep it simple. Mashed potatoes (28%) and baked potatoes (25%) top the list of preferred preparations, with French fries (20%), home fries/hash browns (10%) and potato chips (5%) following.

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