While high in carbohydrates, potatoes offer a number of nutrients that make it a healthy meal option. Potatoes contain high levels of potassium and vitamin C, along with dietary fiber, especially in the skin. Loading your potato with butter, cheese and high-fat sour cream turns a healthy vegetable into a high-calorie meal. Choosing healthier toppings keeps a baked potato healthier overall.
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Butter, sour cream and cheese are common toppings for baked potatoes, but the regular versions of these items are high in fat. Instead, opt for a low-fat or fat-free version to make your potato toppings healthier. Another option is fat-free, plain Greek yogurt, which is higher in protein than regular yogurt. Stir in fresh herbs or dry seasonings to flavor the yogurt before placing it on the table. Try low-fat cottage cheese for another variation of a healthy, dairy-based potato topper.
Low-fat, low-calorie sauces add flavor to your potatoes by themselves or in combination with another topping. Salsa is a flavorful option that won't add a lot of calories to your potato. Different salsa varieties are available at the supermarket, or make your own salsa to keep the sodium content lower. Another sauce option is low-fat salad dressing in your favorite flavor. Measure out the dressing so you use only one serving as your potato topper.
Chili is another common baked potato topper, but not all chili soups are healthy. Make your own chili so you are able to control the ingredients and the amount of sodium. For the healthiest version, stick with primarily beans and vegetables in the chili. If you want to add meat, choose lean ground meat or use tofu crumbles to avoid excessive fat in the chili. Add a few sprinkles of low-fat cheese with the chili if desired.
Additional vegetables keep the baked potato low in fat and calories. Fresh vegetables like chopped tomatoes and green onions work as the topping, especially when paired with low-fat sour cream or yogurt. Another option is to use steamed or roasted vegetables on top of your baked potato. Broccoli pairs well with potatoes. Or try stir-fry vegetables with a small amount of soy sauce for an Asian-themed baked potato.