Are russet potatoes good for health? Yes, of course! These potatoes that have brown skin contain a significant amount of essential nutrients like vitamin C and minerals such as magnesium. To know about health benefits of russet potatoes, read on…
There are different types of potatoes, but the ones that come with light brown skin are commonly referred to as russet potatoes. Found in every household of the United States, russet potatoes are commonly used to make french fries. Although used in a variety of recipes, these oval-shaped potatoes are often tagged as unhealthy because they are high in starchy carbohydrates. How far is this true? Let’s find out.
Are Russet Potatoes Healthy?
Are russet potatoes good for you? Any food that is jam-packed with nutrients is considered to be good for health. Russet sprouts satisfy this criterion, and so there is no reason why you should not include them in your diet. Russet potatoes have long been hailed as a reservoir of minerals and a valuable supply of ‘B’ vitamins. In order to lead a healthy life, russet potatoes can certainly play a very important role. Apart from being a rich source of health enhancing nutrients, russet potato is free from cholesterol, a sticky, waxy substance known to cause heart problems. Moreover, they are also low in saturated fats and sodium.
A large, raw russet potato is a powerhouse of nutrients. It is a supplier of numerous nutrients including trace minerals that are hard to find in today’s ‘meals on the run’ lifestyle. Following are some of the nutritional benefits of russet potatoes.
Russet potatoes are also a good source of fiber, provided their skin is not removed. A medium-sized uncooked potato has around 2710 mg of dietary fiber. Fiber, as we know is crucial for regular bowel movement. It assists in softening the stools, thus ensuring smooth defecation. Fiber inadequacy triggers bowel dysfunction, thereby causing constipation. So, if you really want to reap the benefits of fiber, you need to eat russet potatoes without removing their skin. Peeling off the skin is like stripping off its fiber content and therefore has to be avoided.
Apart from vitamin B6, minerals like magnesium are also present substantially in russet potatoes. Large uncooked russet potatoes provide approximately 85 mg of magnesium. Over 300 biological processes in our body are said to be dependent on magnesium. Basically, magnesium supports nerve function, allows our muscles to relax, as well as promotes calcium absorption for strong, healthy bones.
Very few people know, phosphorus that helps in digestion, bone development and elimination of toxins is also found in raw russet potatoes. The vegetable contains approximately 200 mg of phosphorus. Benefits of phosphorus are numerous and vary from maintaining brain function to repairing cell damage. It also contributes to maintain kidney function and a hormonal balance.
Potassium too, is found in abundance in this vegetable. A medium to large size raw russet gives a whopping 800-1500 mg of potassium. Importance of potassium for our body can be gauged from the fact that, its deficiency causes muscle cramps, as potassium controls proper contraction and relaxation of the muscles. Blood sugar may also fall below the normal range due to potassium inadequacy.
Very few foodstuffs have good amounts of iron and one of them is potatoes. Uncooked large russet potatoes contain 3.2 mg of iron. Iron in blood does an important job of transporting oxygen to different organs of the body. A diet lacking in iron can cause persistent fatigue, headache and even anemia.
With russet potatoes, you can look forward to increase in your vitamin C intake. Large raw russet potatoes deliver around 21 mg of vitamin C. This is because, the vegetable is high in vitamin C, an antioxidant that counteracts the effects of free radical damage. Free radicals are substances that are known to cause cancers and heart problems. Vitamin C also encourages absorption of calcium, which is necessary to maintain and promote bone growth. Russet potatoes are also good sources of antioxidants like flavonoids and zeaxanthin.
High concentration of vitamin B is another reason why you should consume russet potatoes. One large-sized uncooked or raw russet potato delivers around 1.27 mg of vitamin B6, 3.8 mg of vitamin B3 (niacin) and approximately 51 mcg of vitamin B9 (folic acid). The B complex vitamin group aids in energy production, boosts immune system, regulates blood pressure, lowers cholesterol and even assists in weight loss.
Cooking Russet Potatoes
The way you decide to cook russet potatoes will actually determine whether they are good or bad for you. In case, you are going to use them to make french fries, then certainly that’s not a good choice. This is because, in this case the potatoes are processed, deep-fried and served as chips. This method of cooking robs off its essential nutrients. On the other hand, baked or boiled russet potatoes are healthy because these methods of cooking allow foods to retain their nutritional value.
Considering their low protein content, many consider them as bad for health. A large uncooked russet has only about 8 g of proteins, which is very less in comparison to almonds. A handful of almonds deliver around 30 g of proteins. Also, russet potatoes contain generous amounts of starchy carbohydrates that are notorious for increasing blood sugar levels. Those following a low carb diet or suffering from diabetes certainly need to minimize consumption of russet potatoes.
Calories in russet potatoes is another factor that may discourage you from including this vegetable in your diet. Russet potatoes are categorized as calorie dense foods, and hence, their excess consumption can lead to weight gain. Even if a medium to large-sized potato contains a high amount of calories, one cannot forget that they are loaded with nutrition. Also, the body derives energy from starchy carbohydrates, so healthy individuals staying away from russet potatoes or other sources of starchy carbohydrates will surely experience low energy levels and persistent fatigue. All in all, one needs to exercise portion control, when it comes to adding russet potatoes to your diet.
Although a poor source of protein, one cannot ignore the fact that russet potatoes are an excellent provider of vitamins and minerals. They are a storehouse of B vitamins that are not easy to obtain from other natural sources. Trace minerals like zinc, manganese and selenium are also present in raw russet potatoes. For instance, 1.1 mg of zinc and 1.5 mcg of selenium is found in a large russet potato.
On the whole, if you are looking for nutrient dense foods to include in your balanced diet, just don’t stick to green vegetables and fruits. Russet potato is yet another option to add variety and nutrition to your meals.