White, red, and sweet…. they make up the potato family. These starchy vegetables are staple of our diet, but each differ in taste, size, and nutrients. The potato is economical, can be prepared and used for so many different varieties of food, and can either practically be a meal itself when loaded up or it compliment a meal on the side. Mashed, sautéed, hashed, as a French fry, in a soup, in a burrito, you name it. We buy them but the big bags and have learned many recipes to mix and match with them.
Here’s the line-up and it is important to note that all potatoes are fat free:
1. White potato: 155 calories, 3 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, and 36 grams of carbohydrates
2. Red potato: 150 calories, 4 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, and 34 grams of carbohydrates
3. Sweet potato: 105 calories, 2 grams of protein, 4 grams of fiber, and 24 carbohydrates
All 3 are great source of vitamin C. We can get up to 1/3 of the daily total intake that we need from potatoes. However, sweet potatoes are the clear winner when it comes to vitamin A. Sweet potatoes can give us up to 4 times the amount of vitamin A that we need. A white potato has zero grams of vitamin A. We need “A” for our immunity, growth and development, and our vision. Sweet potatoes are also the winner when it comes to containing antioxidants. Sweet potatoes also are the fiber winner. Even though they may only contain 1 gram more, when most Americans don’t get adequate amounts of fiber in their diets, a little goes a long way. Sweet potatoes also have the lowest amount of carbohydrates. This affects their position on the glycemic index (GI). The higher the GI score, the more likely the food is to raise blood sugar levels. This is not conducive to diabetics. White potatoes rank in at 78 while sweet are at 63. However, white and red make up for lack of “A” by containing more iron, potassium, and magnesium than sweet potatoes.
Collectively, potatoes are low in calories, have no fat or cholesterol, have fiber and vitamin C. No nutrition label will break down the carbohydrate make-up for you of potatoes. Potatoes are slow to digest in our system. We like them because they are filling due to their complex carbohydrate composition. The difference is that sweet potatoes won’t spike your blood sugar like a white or red potato will. Sweet potatoes digest slower in our system and their nutrients enter our blood stream at much slower rate so we feel more satiated.
We tend to overdo it when it comes to potato consumption. It’s difficult to stop at ½ cup of mashed potatoes or to have a baked potato merely the size of your computer mouse. Especially when it comes to French fries, just having a few is a mind game. The winner is the sweet potato when compared to its family members. Just be sure not to load up on butter, cheese, sour cream and the works no matter which type you choose. Taste your food for what it is versus what the condiments can cover up. When it comes to potatoes, it appears the “sweeter” the better.