As a white food, potatoes are often lumped together with white bread and white pasta, and are considered no-nos when trying to eat healthier. But potatoes are filled with nutrients that promote good health. And red potatoes are particularly healthy because you may be more likely to eat their skins, which are loaded with fiber, B vitamins, iron and potassium.
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Help With Weight Loss
Red potatoes with the skin are a good source of fiber. One medium baked red potato contains 3 grams of fiber. Fiber in food makes you feel less hungry and might help you eat less. According to a review article published in "Nutrition Reviews," eating more than 14 grams of fiber for more than two days is associated with a 10 percent decrease in total calorie intake and a 4-pound weight loss over a four-month period. So if you're trying to lose weight, red potatoes can help, not hurt.
Lower Blood Pressure
If you need to lower your blood pressure, you might want to consider eating more red potatoes. One medium baked red potato contains 943 milligrams of potassium. Getting more potassium in your diet reduces the effects of sodium and may help lower blood pressure, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010. The guidelines also point out that most Americans don't meet the recommended 4,700 milligrams a day of potassium.
Red potatoes are also a good source of iron, with 1.2 milligrams in one medium baked potato. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans note that women who may become pregnant do not get enough iron in their diet. Women between the ages of 19 and 50 need 18 milligrams of iron a day, while men and women over age 51 need 8 milligrams a day. You need iron to make hemoglobin, which is found in your red blood cells and is what helps carry oxygen throughout your body.
Protection Against Free Radicals
Free radicals are substances produced through normal body functions, such as breathing and physical activity, as well as through harmful habits such as smoking. These free radicals attack healthy cells and weaken them, making them more vulnerable to disease. Antioxidants are nutrients found in food that help protect your cells against free radicals. Red potatoes contain high amounts of the antioxidant vitamin C, 21 milligrams in one serving. In addition to protecting your healthy cells from damage, the vitamin C in the red potato also helps your body absorb more iron.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- Diets In Review.com: No White Foods Diet
- Kids Eat Right: Potatoes - A Natural Health Food
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Potatoes, Red, Flesh and Skin, Baked
- Nutrition Reviews: Dietary Fiber and Weight Regulation
- U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Iron and Iron Deficiency
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin C
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Antioxidants
- USDA Household Commodity Fact Sheet: Potatoes, Red, Fresh