Potatoes Are More Than A Good Source Of Potassium
The average potato consumption in the U.S. for 2011 was in the neighborhood of 120 pounds per person. If we break that number down into realistically sized serving portions, Americans eat around 5.2 ounces per day.Another way to visualize this quantity is that average con-sumption is about four-and-a-half, 8-ounce tubers per person, per week.
The Hidden Benefits
The good news is that those who consume potatoes on a regular basis are getting a very nutritious food. That, and the potato also has other less obvious desirable qualities.
A single serving of potato contains more potassium than a banana and is recognized as one of the best sources of this mineral. Plus, a serving of potato has significant amounts of vitamins, and it is a good source of dietary fiber. Consumption of potatoes also can provide additional health benefits.
A number of significant problems such as heart disease, macular degeneration, diabetes, and cancer all are contributed to by something called “oxidative damage.” Potatoes are high in the antioxidant compounds that are believed to combat this damage.
Breeding For Enhanced Nutrition
Dr. Charles Brown (USDA-Agriculture Research Service, Prosser, WA) and his partner have been investigating the enhancement of these qualities through breeding potato selections that are considerably higher in antioxidants than those currently available.
Results indicate there is a strong connection between antioxidant levels and tuber color. Varieties displaying more intense skin and flesh colors contained higher antioxidant levels than their less flamboyant cousins.
All of the above are admirable qualities and provide ample evidence of the excellent nutritional and health benefits of potatoes, but the potato has another virtue that makes it a superb food source. An attribute that’s important but probably not on most people’s radar is a property called “satiety,” which is defined as “a pleasant feeling of fullness and the corresponding reduction of hunger” by researcher Dr. Suzanne Holt at the University of Sydney, Australia.
Holt’s group administered 240-calorie portions of 38 different foods to volun-teers. Test subjects were then asked to rate their sensation of hunger every 15 minutes for the next two hours, after which they were given access to a buffet where they could eat to their heart’s content.
The amount that each volunteer consumed was recorded. From this data set, Holt created a “satiety index,” which is basically a measure of how much time was required before the test subjects felt hungry again. When the results were tabulated, the potato was ranked the No. 1 food on this index by a wide margin.
From a nutritional standpoint, po-tatoes are practically perfect. Another benefit: They taste pretty good!