White potatoes are versatile options you can have with eggs at breakfast, as potato salad as a side to sandwiches for lunch or roasted with chicken for dinner. White potatoes are starchy vegetables that contain a variety of essential nutrients. They can be beneficial as part of a balanced diet as long as you prepare them in healthy ways.
Calories in Spuds
A small potato weighs about 5 ounces, and has 130 calories. It has 29 grams of carbohydrates and 3 grams of protein. To prevent consuming more calories than you intend when you eat your potato, eat it with filling, low-calorie foods, such as broiled fish or skinless chicken breast instead of making potato salad with mayonnaise or adding calorie-dense toppings, such as butter. Vegetable soup with chicken broth and diced potatoes is another low-calorie option.
A small potato provides 2.9 grams of dietary fiber. Dietary fiber acts as a laxative and may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes. Healthy adults should get at least 14 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories in their diet, but the average American gets less than half of that amount. Potatoes and other vegetables, whole grains, legumes and fruits are sources of fiber.
Vitamins and Potassium
A small potato provides 751 milligrams of potassium, which is a mineral necessary for regulating blood pressure. It counters the blood pressure-raising effects of sodium, and healthy adults should get at least 4,700 milligrams per day. A small white potato has 17 milligrams of vitamin C, or 28 percent of the daily value, and 52 milligrams of folate, or 13 percent of the daily value. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that also helps your body absorb iron. Folate is an essential B vitamin for heart health and for preventing birth defects.
The way you prepare your potatoes affects their nutritional content. White potatoes are naturally fat-free, but frying them to make french fries or hash browns makes them higher in fat. A high-sodium diet can lead to higher blood pressure and an increased risk for stroke, heart disease and kidney disease, but a small potato has only 10 milligrams of sodium. Stuffing baked potatoes with broccoli and low-fat cheese adds dietary fiber and calcium, while topping them with bacon and sour cream adds cholesterol-raising saturated fat.