Many foods have a bad reputation for being healthy. Granola can, for instance, be loaded with sugar and excess fat. Yogurt is the same. Baked potatoes were a popular diet food in the 1980s. Baked potatoes could become secretly high-calorie and sodium-laden if they were seasoned with butter, chili, cream, sour cream, and other condiments. In a world where many people are choosing to eat low- or no-carb, potatoes have earned a bad reputation for being high-carb foods. There is a lot of contradicting information about baked potatoes. Are they healthy?
They Are Not As High In Carbohydrates As You Might Think
The reputation of potatoes as high-carb food is well-deserved. Because they are a way to store energy to feed new potatoes plants, they must be packed with sugary sources. A baked potato has a lower carb count than white rice and pasta. Medium potatoes have about 37 grams of carbs, while small potatoes may have only 15 grams.
After heating and cooling potatoes, some carbs undergo chemical changes. This causes them to become resistant to starch. Refrigerating potatoes for a few days before baking them and then heating them again after cooling them reduces their glycemic load.
Baked Potatoes Are Rich In Fiber
The average potato contains 4 grams of dietary fiber per medium-sized potato. It also feeds beneficial bacteria and slows down sugar absorption. By taking up space in the stomach, and intestines, fiber can also increase feelings of satisfaction.
A study found that fiber was the most important factor in preventing the development of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and other diseases. A person’s fiber intake is a good indicator of the quality of their diet. High-quality diets include a lot of fresh, minimally processed fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and all other fiber-rich foods.
They Are High In Potassium
Baking potatoes contain more potassium than bananas. This is important at a time when many Americans don’t get their recommended daily potassium intake. Potassium is essential for proper cell function and helps to lower blood pressure and heart rate. The body can experience muscle cramps and headaches, anxiety, rapid or irregular heartbeat, and other symptoms such as muscle cramps.
Potatoes Contain Protein
Many people mistakenly think potatoes are only carbohydrate bombs. Medium potatoes contain about 4g of protein. Potato protein is considered a complete protein, meaning it contains all the necessary amino acids to sustain animal life. They are also low in tryptophan and histidine so they should be paired with a diet rich in these amino acids.
The Short Answer
Yes, baked potatoes can be healthy.
It’s okay to include potatoes in a healthy and balanced diet. Preparation is the only problem. Plain baked potatoes are high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and protein. They also have low fat and sodium. You can make or break a potato by adding condiments to it, so be careful about what you add.
Mix fat-free Greek yogurt and a squeeze of lemon juice instead of using sour cream. You’ll get the same creamy tartness and creaminess as sour Cream, but it has less fat, more protein, and beneficial probiotics.
You can make your chili instead of buying canned chili. Chili freezes well so you can make portions and keep it in the freezer for those times when you are craving it. Chili can be made healthier by substituting lean ground beef for beef and adding lots of fiber-rich legumes.
Limit how much cheese you use. You can grate your cheddar yourself, instead of buying pre-made cheeses and cheese dips. You’ll enjoy a better-tasting product and won’t need to use as many.
Add all you want to low-sodium seasonings or chives. These add tons of flavor to the baked potato without affecting its nutritional profile.
Full-fat dairy is also acceptable. You should measure each portion if you choose to use full-fat dairy. You can easily forget to measure the portions.