• Only the way we prepare and consume potatoes can have adverse health effects, according to our partner The Conversation.

  • In fact, potatoes contain a lot of vitamins and other important nutrients.

  • The analysis of this phenomenon was carried out by Duane Mellor, Associate Dean and Senior Lecturer in Life Sciences at Aston University (Birmingham, England).

The “humble” potato has a bad reputation.

This inexpensive staple, once part of the diets of many countries, has in recent years been called an "unhealthy" food to avoid.

Eating too much of any type or group of foods (like carbohydrates) is not "healthy," and some research suggests that eating too many potatoes may be associated with higher blood pressure.

But it's usually the way we prepare (such as when we fry them) and consume potatoes that has detrimental effects.

In fact, potatoes contain a lot of vitamins and other nutrients that are important for health.

Here are six reasons why potatoes are good for you.

1 -

Vitamin C

People generally associate vitamin C with oranges and citrus fruits.

But an important source of vitamin C in the British diet, for most of the 20th century, was actually from potatoes.

On average, a small potato (150 g) contains about 15% of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C.

Vitamin C is important because it supports immune function and contains antioxidants.

It also plays a vital role in the formation of connective tissue, which helps our joints work well and keeps our teeth in place.

This is why vitamin C deficiency is linked to tooth loss or diseases like scurvy.

Eating fries (not too fatty) doesn't have all drawbacks © PixZolo Photography / Unsplash

2 -

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 is an essential cofactor (small molecule) in the body.

It helps more than 100 enzymes to function properly, allowing them to break down proteins, a process essential for the proper functioning of the nerves.

This may also be the reason why B6 is linked to good mental health.

In general, a small potato contains about a quarter of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin B6 for an adult.



The presence of potassium in our cells is important for regulating electrical signaling in muscles and nerves.

So, if the potassium level is too high or too low, it can prevent our heart from functioning.

Roasted, baked and fried potatoes contain higher levels of potassium than boiled or mashed potatoes.

A jacketed potato contains about a third of the recommended daily allowance.

In fact, if you boil diced potatoes, about half of the potassium escapes into the water.

We can understand here why these tubers are called “potatoes” © Markus Spiske / Unsplash

However, for people with kidney disease - which can limit the ability to eliminate excess potassium in the body - it may help to limit your consumption of potatoes.

And when roasting or frying potatoes, you have to pay attention to the amount of oil used.

4 -


Choline is an essential nutrient that binds to fat to make phospholipids, the building blocks of cell walls, as well as acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that helps contract muscles, dilate blood vessels and slow the heart rate. Potatoes contain the second highest levels of choline, after foods high in protein, such as meat and soy.

Getting enough choline is vital because it is essential for healthy brain, nerves and muscles.

And subtle differences in our genes can cause some of us to be deficient in choline.

A jacketed potato contains about 10% of a person's daily choline requirement.

Choline is especially important during pregnancy, when the growing fetus makes lots of new cells and organs.

5 -

microbiome health

Cooked potato starches may be good for our microbiome © Gayvoronskaya Yana / Shutterstock (via The Conversation)

Cooking and cooling the potatoes before eating them allows resistant starch to form.

This healthy starch helps our bodies in many ways, including acting as a prebiotic, which is important for maintaining a healthy gut microbiome.

Resistant starch is not digested in the upper part of the gastrointestinal tract and continues its journey to reach microorganisms in the colon.

It is fermented there by colon bacteria, producing vinegar-like molecules called short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs).

These fatty acids nourish our intestines and keep them healthy.

Short-chain fatty acids can also change our metabolism for the better, helping to lower blood fat and sugar levels.

These characteristics, together with the high and low fat content, make boiled or steamed potatoes low in calories, nutrient rich and satiating.

A small potato contains about a quarter of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin B6 for an adult © Sergej Cash / Shutterstock (via The Conversation)

6 -

Naturally gluten-free

Potatoes are also naturally gluten-free, making them a great option for people with celiac disease or who need to avoid gluten.

The same goes for sweet potatoes, which have a lower glycemic index - meaning they don't cause blood sugar levels to spike, which can help control weight and appetite.

However, sweet potatoes are slightly higher in calories and carbohydrates than regular potatoes, although they contain more beta-carotene (a form of vitamin A).

And as a bonus, fewer calories than a banana

Some people choose to avoid potatoes for fear of gaining weight, but a typical boiled potato contains only around 130 calories, which is less calories than a banana of the same size.

But it is important to pay attention to how the potatoes are prepared and eaten.

Boiling or steaming (possibly accompanied by cooling to increase the amount of resistant starch) is the best way to keep calories per gram low.

Baking increases the number of calories per gram (due to water loss), as does mashing with butter or cream.

The least healthy way to eat potatoes is to eat them in the form of French fries or potato chips because they soak up oil like a sponge.

Our "Vegetables" file

You should also avoid green potatoes, which produce a toxin that can irritate the gut.

This happens when the potato has been stored in the light.

Otherwise, for most people, including potatoes in a healthy and varied diet can be a good idea.

Besides being healthy, the potato also has environmental benefits.

Its production requires less water than that of rice and generates less greenhouse gases than that of rice and wheat.

This is another great reason to include potatoes in your diet.


Almonds, walnuts and other nuts: what do we know about their effects on health?


Why a "more responsible" diet depends on where you live

This review was written by Duane Mellor, Associate Dean and Senior Lecturer in Life Sciences at Aston University (Birmingham, England).

The original article, in English, was translated and published on The Conversation website.

Declaration of interests

Duane Mellor is affiliated with the British Dietetic Association and the Association for Nutrition.

  • Gluten

  • Vegetables

  • Well-being

  • Nutrition

  • Fries

  • Food

  • Health

  • Video