Rich, creamy, soul-satisfying and the bane of the dieter, the potato has been much maligned by advocates of low-carb weight loss plans. But is the potato really that unhealthy? Is it actually so bad for you? What is the nutritional profile of the vegetable? Should one shun it, or is the exclusion of it from food-plans unnecessary.

Contrary to popular belief, potatoes are low in calories. A medium sized potato contains only 115 calories. But this changes when potatoes are fried. Potatoes consumed in the form of fries, crisps, chips, as baked potatoes with sour cream and butter are a very high calorie food.

Why eat potatoes?

Potatoes are a rich source of potassium, vitamins B6 and C, niacin, pantothenic acid and dietary fibre. Potatoes contain lysine, an essential amino acid lacking in grains. Potatoes contain moderate amounts of protein about 2.5 grams in a moderate sized potato. This is approximately the same as that found in corn and rice.

Did you know that most of the nutrients, fibre and protein in the vegetable are actually found in the potato skins. So eat potatoes with their skin if possible.

How should I buy/ store potatoes?

Look for firm potatoes. Avoid wrinkled, leathery, sprouting or discoloured potatoes. Also reject potatoes with spade marks.

Never freeze potatoes. Store them in a dry dark place. Avoid plastic bags. Instead use either gunny bags, paper bags or any perforated bag with allows the potato to breath and the moisture to escape.

If you need to store potatoes for a very long duration go for mature potatoes.

How are mature potatoes different from new potatoes?

Mature potatoes are large potatoes harvested when mature. These potatoes have a greater lasting quality and can be stored. They have a greater degree of starch and a thicker skin. In fact, these, rather than new potatoes should be used to make dishes like Baked Potatoes and French Fries.

New potatoes are harvested before they are mature. As a result the skin of new potatoes is thin and flaky. These cannot be stored for a long time because of the higher water content. New potatoes have less starch. They are best used in preparations that involve the addition of water like boiled, steamed and mashed potatoes.

Preparation tips

If you do not plan to cook your cut and peeled potatoes immediately, then keep them in a bowl of mildly acidulated water, since potatoes discolour if exposed to the air. Potatoes also discolour when they come in contact with iron or aluminium. So, avoid cooking potatoes in iron or aluminium pots. Use a carbon-steel knife to prepare them.

Quick serving healthy potato recipe

Quarter two medium sized potatoes brush them with olive oil and cook them at medium high heat on the bar-be-que for 7-10 minutes on each side

Healthy French Fries- Cut the potatoes into the desired shape. Toss with a little olive oil, place on a baking tray and bake in the oven at 350 degrees F or 180 degrees C or Gas Mark 4 for 20 minutes Then take them out turn them over and return them to the oven for another 20 minutes. Season and enjoy!


Do not buy or eat green potatoes. The greenness indicates the development of the poisonous alkaloid solanin which can cause a whole host of health problems such as circulatory and respiratory depression, headaches and diarrhoea.

Potatoes contain glycoalkaloids, toxic compounds. Glycoalkaloids occur in the greatest concentrations just underneath the skin of the tuber, and they increase with age and exposure to light. Cooking at high temperatures partly destroys these. Glycoalkaloids may cause headaches, diarrhea, cramps and in severe cases coma and death; however, poisoning from potatoes occurs very rarely.