Red Potatoes and the Circle of Life

Posted in Nutrition on Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Red Potatoes and the Circle of Life

Do you know which major mineral American’s require in the greatest quantity each day? Iron is a popular guess, but not correct. You’re closer if you guessed sodium. But potassium ranks as the top mineral, with most Americans needing about 4,700 milligrams each day. 

It’s no secret that many Americans struggle with elevated blood pressure, which potassium-rich foods help to improve. “But wait, there’s more…” potassium also supports heart, muscle, and nerve function, and is critical for energy production.

When asked about potassium sources, most people quickly recite bananas, however, potatoes trump bananas in potassium content.  Because of their lower starch content, red potatoes are potassium kings, sporting 969 milligrams in a single medium potato. Eating high potassium foods like potatoes can ensure a healthful intake of potassium.

Wrapped around potatoes potassium-rich insides is a nutritious potato skin.  The skin delivers fiber and health-supporting compounds called phytochemicals giving color to the potatoes’ skin. Phytochemicals provide protection by keeping the potato safe from invading bacteria, fungi, and pests. When we eat the skins, we benefit by ingesting the phytochemicals, which in turn boost our own body’s defenses. It’s the circle of life in the form of a potato.

The firm texture of red potatoes also makes them good for boiling or steaming, and can be added to casseroles, soups and salads. At the supermarket you’ll see several varieties of red potatoes such as: Chieftan, Norland, Red La Soda, Klondike Rose, and Idarose. Unlike bananas which can turn brown after a week on the counter, potatoes can last for several weeks stored in a cool (42-45 degrees), dark and well ventilated area. Warmer than 45 degrees encourages sprouting, and colder than 42 degrees (refrigerator temperature) causes the complex starches to break down. Make sure you trim any green spots, caused by the chlorophyll, as it produces a bitter taste.

Whether you prefer red, purple, white, or brown potatoes, they all pack plenty of potassium, and are available year round. It’s the circle of life.