Potatoes – not so bad!

02/04/2014 Uncategorized Potato varieties

Long thought of as an enemy to a healthy diet, potatoes are finally earning their credibility as the beneficial nutrient-rich food they really are.

Potatoes originated in South America—home to many ‘super’ foods such as avocados and the ancient grain, quinoa. Easy to grow and nutrient dense, potatoes became a global staple after spreading to Europe and the US in the 1500s and 1600s.

So why have potatoes received such a bad rap?

When served as greasy hot chips or cheesy baked potatoes from fast food restaurants, potatoes are not a healthy option. On the whole, they are considered a high glycemic index (GI) food (they produce a rapid spike in blood sugar levels) and it’s this, combined with their oil rich food preparation that makes them a perfect candidate for leading to excess weight gain.

However, a single serving (one potato) provides 15%-20% of the average person’s daily potassium needs and is a great source of Vitamin C and antioxidants. To get the most nutritional benefit from your potato, eat it with its skin on! The skin is high in fibre and also contains B Vitamins.

Now that potatoes have had their name cleared, the question is: out of all the different kinds of potatoes available, which ones should you choose?

When it comes to their nutrient makeup, potatoes are pretty similar: they all have very little sodium and virtually no fat. It is how they hold their shape when cooked that differentiates one potato from the next. Those good for mashing or baking have a high starch content, causing them to lose their form when cooked. Potatoes with a low starch content, keep their shape and are perfect for baking, roasting or boiling. There are also all-rounders (with medium starch content) that are delicious no matter the method of preparation, but particularly for roasting.

We’ve scanned the isles and focused on some of the more common ones that you find in your local supermarket:

Mashed 

When cooked, cells in high starch potatoes split apart and soak up anything you thrown at them. They are perfect for mash because they hold air when whipped. Examples are:

  • Eureka Gold
  • Golden Delight
  • Sebago
  • Dutch Cream
  • Carisma (certified low GI)

Boiled 

The less starch a potato has, the more it keeps its shape and holds in moisture. Baby potatoes have less starch and are generally good for boiling. Other varieties include:

  • Kipfler
  • Pontiac
  • Chat

Baked or Roasted 

All-purpose potatoes are great for roasting because of their medium starch and medium moisture content. These include:

  • Pontiac
  • King Edward
  • Nicola
  • Desiree
  • Coliban

Now that you’re in the mood for potatoes, here is a recipe for a potato frittata or perhaps a cheesy baked potato is more up your alley.