Why should you eat potatoes?!?

Did you know that Potatoes are a great source of potassium and protein, and other important vitamins and minerals? We have compiled information to give you health and nutritional information, recipes and tips on cooking, eating and storing potatoes. Although Sweet Potatoes are technically different than “regular potatoes”, since we are from the South- they are not only a necessity- but a Super Food! (the scientific differences in them would be better addressed in a different setting.) Although the have a few nutritional differences (beta carotene), the uses and storage are the same. Here are a few reasons to make sure you eat potatoes each and every week!

POTASSIUM

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, potassium is also a nutrient of concern – because very few of us are getting enough.

With 620 milligrams in a medium potato, this white vegetable is a potassium superstar! One serving of potatoes can provide 18% of the DV for potassium – meaning it is an excellent source of this key nutrient.

Though many people think of bananas as the richest source of potassium, potatoes contain a significant amount of this essential mineral. A medium potato has significantly more potassium than than other produce items, including broccoli at 460 mgs. and sweet potatoes at 440 mgs.Each large russet potato contains 1,539 milligrams of potassium, or 33 percent of your daily potassium requirements. The potassium in potatoes facilitates muscle contraction, supports the function of your nervous system, aids in energy production and helps maintain your body’s fluid balance.

 PROTEIN

Yes, potatoes have some surprisingly high quality protein. A medium potato has 3 grams of protein, more than most vegetables and about the same amount as 1/3 cup of milk. The quality of the potato protein, including how easy it is to digest and the amino acids it contains, is considered to be high.

Depending on variety, the biological value for potato protein is between 90 and 100 (the biological value of whole egg protien). This means that potatoes contain essential amino acids in a very similar proportion to that required by humans.

FIBER

Most Americans eat only half the recommended amount of daily fiber. This is a nutrient of public health concern and potatoes can help fill that gap.

A medium potato with skin has about 2 grams of fiber. Many people think of the skin as the high fiber portion of the potato; however, about two-thirds of the total fiber content is inside, in the delicious flesh of the potato!

Supplying 8% of the Daily Value (DV) for fiber, a medium potato has about the same amount of fiber as 1/2 grapefruit or 1 raw carrot, and much more than most leafy vegetables.

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VITAMIN C 

While most Americans get enough vitamin C, it is vital for iron absorption, wound healing and gum health.

The vitamin C content of a medium potato is about 27 milligrams – or 45% of the DV, making it an excellent source of this key antioxidant that is also thought to support immune system health.

Potatoes also provide a source of vitamin C, so adding more potatoes to your diet helps you reach the RDI for this vitamin. Each large russet potato boosts your vitamin C intake by 21 milligrams, approximately 28 and 23 percent of the RDI for women and men, respectively, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. Vitamin C consumption might help prevent disease: high intake of the nutrient correlates with decreased risk of some types of cancer, and high levels of vitamin C in your system reduce your risk of stroke, according to the Linus Pauling Institute.

This means that a medium potato has about the same vitamin C as a medium tangerine and a bit more than a medium tomato. It is also a good reason to cook potatoes in their skins, to retain as much vitamin C and other water soluble vitamins as possible.

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POTATO NUTRIENTS

In addition to the major nutrients listed above, potatoes also contribute smaller amounts of several other important nutrients, including vitamin B6, thiamin, iron, magnesium and phosphorus.

In terms of nutrition, potatoes are also notable for what they do not have. Like most other vegetables of all color, plain baked potates have no fat, no saturated fat, no cholesterol and no sodium.

Manganese

Eat potatoes as a source of manganese, an essential mineral. A number of enzymes in your system rely on manganese to function and carry out chemical reactions required for your survival. Getting enough manganese helps support your metabolism by activating enzymes required to digest proteins and carbohydrates. Manganese also helps maintain bone health by activating enzymes essential to bone development. One large russet potato contains 0.58 milligrams of manganese, 25 percent of the RDI for men and 32 percent of the RDI for women, according to the Linus Pauling Institute.

Vitamin B-6

One of the nutritional benefits of eating potatoes is an increased vitamin B-6, or pyridoxine, intake. Vitamin B-6 helps your body produce neurotransmitters, small molecules that facilitate communication between networks nerve cells, as well as between your nerves and muscles. Pyridoxine also contributes to the synthesis of melatonin, a brain hormone that helps maintain your natural internal clock and sleep cycle. Eating a large russet potato provides your body with 1.27 milligrams of vitamin B-6 — 98 percent of the recommended daily intake, or RDI, for all adults between the ages of 19 and 50, 85 percent of the RDI for women over age 50 and 75 percent of the RDI for men over age 50, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

ANTIOXIDANTS

In addition to vitamins and minerals, research documented by the United States Potato Board (USPB) shows potatoes also contain an assortment of phytochemicals with antioxidant potential, most notably carotenoids and anthocyanins. According to the USPB Nutritional Handbook, anthocyanins are found in the greatest quantities in purple and red potatoes while cartenoids are found largely in yellow and red potatoes.

Also referenced in the USPB Nutritional Handbook; a researcher study examined the total antioxidant capacity of more than 100 different foods including fruits, vegetables, nuts and more. Researchers found that out of the 42 vegetables that were tested Russet potatoes ranked fifth highest in their total antioxidant levels, coming in behind small red beans, kidney beans, pinto beans and artichokes.  However, potatoes scored higher than other vegetables often more commonly known for their antioxidant potential including broccoli, cabbage and tomatoes.

Healthy Cooking Ideas

While most potatoes are consumed (commercially) as french fries and potato chips- there are many ways to prepare and enjoy healthy (and healthier) potatoes.

Some potato dishes traditionally call for the addition of unhealthy fats, diminishing the overall healthiness of your meals, and making healthier versions of potato dishes allows you to enjoy the tubers in moderation as part of a balanced diet. A few simple tips for easy substitutes and preps are making mashed potatoes with cream and butter, add richness to your potatoes with nonfat Greek yogurt. Top your baked potato with steamed broccoli and sea salt instead of full-fat sour cream. Skip the fatty mayonnaise when making potato salad and dress your salad in a mixture of roasted garlic and olive oil vinaigrette. Try making baked potato wedges using chopped potatoes lightly coated in olive oil.

Here are our favorite ways of cooking potatoes:

Sides: Homemade Mashed Potatoes Mustard Roasted Gold Potatoes Roasted Carrots and Potatoes Parmesan Roasted Potatoes Garlic and Rosemary Potatoes Easy Mashed Potatoes & Broccoli Vegetable Tian Smashed Potatoes Potato, Squash, & Goat Cheese Gratin

Meals: Adobo Potato Tacos Spinach and Potato Quiche Healthy Chicken & Potato Casserole Thai Vegetable Curry Baked Sausage & Potatoes

Soups: Kale & Bean Soup Sweet Potato Chili Vegetable Soup

Snacks: Oven Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges Sweet Potato Salsa

I have my potatoes home…now what should I do with them?

There is not a person (if we’re being honest here) that has not conducted the most basic of all science and gardening experiments- growing potatoes (in our pantry!) and can easily identify a rotting potato. These are caused by the most common storage mistakes people make.

If you buy a few potatoes to use within days, the storage location is not an issue—you can keep them almost anywhere. But if you intend to store several pounds of potatoes for more than a few days, the storage location can affect how long the potatoes remain usable.

Even after harvest, potatoes are still living, respiring organisms that use oxygen and give off carbon dioxide. This means potato tubers must have fresh air for prolonged storage. The fact that they are alive also means that they respond to their environment. Warm temperatures encourage sprouting and tuber diseases. Potato tubers exposed to light will turn green. Tubers stored in a dry environment will become flaccid and withered in appearance. The best place to store potatoes is in a ventilated, cool, dark, and humid environment.

  • Ideal conditions are ventilated, cool tempera- tures, high humidity and no light.
  • Store at cool temperatures (42-55°F).The warmer the temperature, the greater the poten- tial for sprout development. The cooler the temperature, the greater the increase in sugar concentration and the darker the fry color.
  • Avoid exposure to light to prevent greening.
  • Options include:°  Purchase in limited quantities or on an “as needed” basis to avoid the need for long- term storage. (Our Market Basket program includes smaller amounts (vs. commercial packaging) with a different type each week!)°  Store away from light in an unheated (42- 55°F) room, closet or cabinet in your home or garage.°  Store in a perforated plastic bag to increase humidity and decrease water loss. Do not tightly seal the bag. The goal is to provide fresh air and to minimize carbon dioxide levels and disease development potential.

So…now that we know why we should eat potatoes often, and how to cook and store them, read on to  to learn more about how they became a staple in our society.

History

The potato originates from the Lake Titicaca region of the Andean Mountains, located near modern-day Peru and Bolivia. It was domesticated between 10,000 and 7,000 years ago, providing a stable high-altitude food source for many cultures. The Incan people (13th-16th century A.D.) regarded the potato as key to their food security since the crop could easily be stored in dehydrated, freeze-dried, and fresh form for consumption during times when other crops failed. Between 1532 and 1572, Incans introduced the potato to Spanish explorers.

Reaching Europe around 1570, potatoes were first considered a novelty shared between royal courts, but quickly became popular with sailors as a cheap and nutritious food source that prevented scurvy, a common ailment caused by vitamin C deficiency. In the late 1700s, when much of Europe was engulfed in crop failures and famine, the potato was accepted as a stable, high-calorie food source that could be grown in a variety of climates, producing high yields for feeding both livestock and people. Ireland became particularly dependent on the crop by the mid-1800s. After three consecutive crop failures between 1845-1848 because of late blight infections (a fungal disease), more than 1.5 million people died from starvation or emigrated from Ireland.

Many Irish immigrants fleeing the Irish potato famine immigrated to the United States, bringing the potato with them. However, the potato was already an American crop; documentation of its cultivation dates back to early colonists. The importance of potatoes in U.S. agriculture has been documented since 1866 when USDA first included them in crop production statistics. Today, the United States ranks fourth in the world for potato production, behind China, Russia, and India.

Geographic Production

Historically, Maine, New York, and Pennsylvania were the main potato-producing regions. As settlement expanded west in the late 19th century, the invention of adequate irrigation systems and the development of refrigerated rail transport spurred States like Idaho, Washington, and Colorado to take the lead in U.S. potato production.  Western States produce almost two-thirds of fall potatoes, with Idaho and Washington accounting for over half of the U.S. total.

Sweet Potatoes grow in moist, warm environments, making the South the ideal climate, including parts of Georgia and Mississippi. North Carolina produces over half of the sweet potatoes grown in the US.

More recipes coming soon! Share your favorites with us! Have tips or tricks? We’d love to hear!

Share the SWEET-ness. Like and follow us! We are Sweet Basil Farm & Gardens on Facebook. Look for us on PinterestYoutube, InstagramGoogle+ and Twitter. Sweet Basil Farms is an 80 acre working farm, consisting of large vegetable, fruit and herb gardens, fruit orchards and livestock, where we put great emphasis on natural gardening, growing and livestock management practices. We are proud members of Georgia Grown and the American Poultry Association. Our commitment to the communities we serve is to give back to each. We are honored to be Partners with Paulding County Schools, Cherokee County Schools, Douglas County Schools and PTA and school Partnerships in many more Metro Atlanta Counties. We also breed and sell poultry, pet pigs, pygmy goats and over 300 varieties of bearded irises and so much more.

An 1840’s General Store situated on our property, is used as our on site Farmer’s Market. The old General Store was once the central hub for a railroad community, and served many important roles in the community of Goggans, even a United States Post Office until the 1960’s. It later served a new, bigger community purpose, inspiring our Farmers Market To You program to be born. This building is registered as a Historical site, and is adjacent to the old “Doctor’s Building”, which is rumored to have served as a Courthouse, among other things. The history on our property, rich with farming and community purpose, inspired us to serve our community in a new and exciting way.

We, both David and I, have always had a passion for growing flowers and plants, rooted from wonderful Grandmothers’ teachings. We, like everyone, began to make a more conscience effort to eat healthy and naturally grown fresh food. Since we have 80 acres, we began by adding a “small” acre and a half vegetable garden. When people began driving an hour or two, just to buy our tomatoes and cucumbers, we realized there was a real need in many communities for families like ours….and Farmers Market To You was born. We have been blessed to expand in to several of our neighboring communities, with our Farmers Market To You Market Basket program…and touch and reach families along the way. We  donate food and cash to needy families, food ministries, PTA’s, churches and other vital community service organizations in each of the communities we serve.

This post compiled and created by Tisha Johnson Matthews, of Sweet Basil Farm & Gardens. Special thanks to J. David Matthews, of Barnesville, Georgia for support and patience with all that I try and test. To see other fantastic recipes, or to find more healthy and delicious recipes, subscribe to our blog and follow us on Social Media.

Very helpful information found on: https://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/crops/vegetables-pulses/potatoes.aspx and http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/reasons-should-eat-potatoes-3947.html.

Enjoy!   Eat Healthy and Grow “America Strong”

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