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Put Potatoes on Your Plate for Potassium Boost


The sometimes maligned white potatoes have just gotten a boost from a new study presented at the American Dietetic Association’s Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo. It seems that potatoes are a significant and affordable source of potassium and offer better nutritional value per buck than most other raw vegetables.

Choose baked, broiled and roasted potatoes

A research team from the University of Washington evaluated nutritional and national food price data from the USDA Food and Nutrition Database for Dietary Studies and the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, along with information from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and the Affordable Nutrition Index, all for the purpose of determining the nutritional value per dollar for potatoes and other vegetables.

Compared with other vegetables, potatoes were named the least costly source of potassium—half the cost of most other vegetables. This is a significant finding given that potassium is lacking in the diet of many Americans, and meeting the 4,700 milligram per day dietary requirement is a challenge for many people.

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According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, one medium-size (138 grams, or 5 oz) baked white potato, with skin, is 130 calories and provides 751 mg of potassium, 3 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, 17 mg of vitamin C, 52 micrograms of folate, and no fat, cholesterol, or sodium (a mere 10 mg). Evaluation of NHANES data reveals that people who ate potatoes (baked, boiled, and roasted) consumed more potassium and vitamin C and more vegetables daily compared with people who did not eat potatoes.

Adam Drewnowski, PhD, the study’s lead researcher, noted that “Potatoes deserve credit for contributing to higher diet quality and increasing vegetable consumption.” He emphasized that “You CAN afford to meet key dietary guidelines IF you include potatoes in your diet.” The study was funded by the United States Potato Board.

It is important to note that this study mentions baked, boiled, and roasted potatoes, while deep fried French fries tend to be a favorite among many Americans. Deep frying potatoes adds a significant and unhealthy amount of fat and calories. This cooking method also forms high levels of acrylamide, an agent that has been designated by International Agency for Research on Cancer as a probable human carcinogen.

American Dietetic Association Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo
International Agency for Research on Cancer
USDA National Nutrient Database

Picture credit: Wikimedia Commons