Your Guide to Potato Nutrition
We need to eat carbohydrates every day because they are important for optimal physical and mental performance. But, not all carbs are created equal.
While “good carb” isn’t defined in the dictionary, this carb is hard at work helping our brains and bodies perform their best, curbing cravings and fueling activity, whether we’re working out or just getting through the day. With potatoes you get the energy, potassium, and vitamin C you need to fuel you.
Potatoes come in multiple varieties to keep your meals interesting.
Russets, reds, yellows, whites, purples, petites, and fingerlings.
Potatoes also come in multiple forms to fit your cooking methods.
Fresh, dehydrated, frozen, and canned.
Their versatility means they can easily fit into meals across various personal, cultural, and dietary preferences.
Potatoes are more energy-packed than any other popular vegetable.
Potatoes are also fat-free, gluten-free, plant-based, affordable, and a quality carbohydrate. They are cholesterol-free and sodium-free, with only 110 calories per 5.3oz serving. Based on the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs), potatoes can help Americans of all ages follow a healthy eating pattern. By choosing potatoes, Americans can take simple steps toward eating healthier across every stage of life.NUTRITION FACTS1 potato (148g/5.3oz)Amount per servingCALORIES110% Daily ValueTotal Fat 0g0%Saturated Fat 0g0%Trans Fat 0gCholesterol 0mg0%Sodium 0mg0%Total Carbohydrate 26g9%Dietary Fiber 2g7%Total Sugars 1gIncludes 0g Added Sugars 0%Protein 3gVitamin D 0mcg0%Calcium 20mg2%Iron 1.1mg6%Potassium 620mg15%Vitamin C 27mg30%Vitamin B6 0.2mg10%*The % daily value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Potato Nutrition Highlights
+An excellent source of vitamin C
+A good source of potassium (more than a banana!)
+A good source of vitamin B6
+Potatoes are nutrient-dense complex carbohydrates
+Potatoes are fat-, sodium- and cholesterol-free
+Potatoes are only 110 calories per serving
Potatoes are underground tubers that grow on the roots of the potato plant, Solanum tuberosum.
This plant is from the nightshade family and related to tomatoes and tobacco. Native to South America, potatoes were brought to Europe in the 16th century and are now grown in countless varieties worldwide.
They’re generally eaten boiled, baked, or fried and frequently served as a side dish or snack. Common potato-based foods and food products include french fries, potato chips, and potato flour.
This article tells you everything you need to know about potatoes and their nutrition.
Cooked potatoes with the skin are a good source of many vitamins and minerals, such as potassium and vitamin C.
Aside from being high in water when fresh, potatoes are primarily composed of carbs and contain moderate amounts of protein and fiber — but almost no fat.
The nutrients found in 2/3 cup (100 grams) of boiled potatoes — cooked with the skin but without salt — are (1Trusted Source):
- Calories: 87
- Water: 77%
- Protein: 1.9 grams
- Carbs: 20.1 grams
- Sugar: 0.9 grams
- Fiber: 1.8 grams
- Fat: 0.1 grams
Potatoes usually have a high glycemic index (GI), making them unsuitable for people with diabetes. The GI measures how foods affect your rise in blood sugar after a meal. However, some potatoes may be in the medium range — depending on the variety and cooking methods (3Trusted Source, 4Trusted Source).
Even though potatoes are not a high fiber food, they may provide a significant source of fiber for those who eat them regularly.
The level of fiber is highest in the skin, which makes up 1–2% of the potato. In fact, dried skins are about 52% fiber (6).
Potato fibers — such as pectin, cellulose, and hemicellulose — are mainly insoluble (7Trusted Source). They also contain varying amounts of resistant starch, a type of fiber that feeds the friendly bacteria in your gut and improves digestive health (8Trusted Source).
Resistant starch can also improve blood sugar control, moderating your rise in blood sugar after meals (9Trusted Source, 10Trusted Source). Compared with hot potatoes, cooled ones offer higher amounts of resistant starch (4Trusted Source).
In fact, compared with other common food crops — such as wheat, rice, and corn — potatoes have the lowest amount of protein. However, the protein quality of potatoes is very high for a plant — higher than that of soybeans and other legumes (12).
The main protein in potatoes is called patatin, which may cause allergies in some people (13Trusted Source).
Carbs are the main dietary component of potatoes. Cooling potatoes after boiling may increase the amount of resistant starch, which can improve gut health. Potatoes also contain small amounts of high quality protein.
Potatoes are a good source of several vitamins and minerals, particularly potassium and vitamin C.
The levels of some vitamins and minerals drop during cooking, but this reduction can be minimized by baking or boiling them with the skin on.
- Potassium. The predominant mineral in potatoes, potassium is concentrated in the skin and may benefit heart health (2Trusted Source, 14Trusted Source).
- Vitamin C. The main vitamin found in potatoes, vitamin C is significantly reduced with cooking — but leaving the skin on appears to reduce this loss (2Trusted Source).
- Folate. Concentrated in the peel, folate is mostly found in potatoes with colored flesh (15Trusted Source, 16Trusted Source).
- Vitamin B6. A class of B vitamins involved in red blood cell formation, B6 is found in most foods. Deficiency is rare.
Potatoes are a good source of several vitamins and minerals, including potassium, folate, and vitamins C and B6.
Potatoes are rich in bioactive plant compounds, which are mostly concentrated in the skin.
- Chlorogenic acid. This is the main polyphenol in potatoes (17Trusted Source).
- Catechin. An antioxidant that accounts for about 1/3 of total polyphenol content, catechin is highest in purple potatoes (18Trusted Source).
- Lutein. Found in potatoes with yellow flesh, lutein is a carotenoid antioxidant that may boost eye health (19Trusted Source, 20Trusted Source).
- Glycoalkaloids. A class of toxic phytonutrients produced by potatoes as a natural defense against insects and other threats, glycoalkaloids may have harmful effects in large amounts (21Trusted Source).
Potatoes harbor some healthy antioxidants that are responsible for many of their health benefits and mostly concentrated in the skin.
Potatoes with skin may offer a number of health benefits.
Hypertension, a harmful condition characterized by abnormally high blood pressure, is one of the main risk factors for heart disease.
Potatoes contain a number of minerals and plant compounds that may help lower blood pressure. The high potassium content of potatoes is particularly noteworthy.
Several observational studies and randomized controlled trials link high potassium intake to a reduced risk of high blood pressure and heart disease (22Trusted Source, 23Trusted Source, 24Trusted Source).
Other substances in potatoes that may promote lower blood pressure include chlorogenic acid and possibly kukoamines (25Trusted Source).
Fullness and weight management
Foods that are very filling may support weight management, prolonging the feeling of fullness after meals and reducing food and calorie intake (26Trusted Source).
Another older trial in 11 men showed that eating boiled potatoes as a side with pork steak led to less calorie intake during the meal when compared to pasta or white rice (28Trusted Source).
Even though PI2 may suppress appetite when taken in its pure form, it is unclear whether the trace amounts present in potatoes have any effect.
Potatoes are relatively filling. For this reason, they may be useful as a part of a weight management plan.
Eating potatoes is generally healthy and safe. However, in some cases, people need to limit their consumption — or avoid them altogether.
Food allergies are a common condition, characterized by an immune reaction to proteins in certain foods.
Those with a latex allergy may be sensitive to patatin as well due to a phenomenon known as allergic cross-reactivity (33Trusted Source).
Plants of the nightshade family, such as potatoes, contain a class of toxic phytonutrients known as glycoalkaloids. The two main glycoalkaloids in potatoes are solanine and chaconine.
Glycoalkaloid poisoning after eating potatoes has been reported in both people and animals (21Trusted Source). However, reports of toxicity are rare, and the condition may go undiagnosed in many cases. In low doses, glycoalkaloids usually cause mild symptoms, such as headache, stomach pain, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting (21Trusted Source).
Some animal studies indicate that the low levels of glycoalkaloids likely found in the human diet may exacerbate inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) (35Trusted Source).
Normally, potatoes contain only trace amounts of glycoalkaloids. A 154-pound (70-kg) individual would have to eat over 13 cups (2 kg) of potatoes (with the skin) in one day to get a lethal dose (34Trusted Source). That said, lower amounts may still cause adverse symptoms.
The levels of glycoalkaloids are higher in the peel and sprouts than in other parts of the potato. It’s best to avoid eating potato sprouts (36Trusted Source).
Potatoes rich in glycoalkaloids have a bitter taste and cause a burning sensation in your mouth, an effect that may be a warning sign of potential toxicity (37).
Potato varieties containing high amounts of glycoalkaloids — over 25 mg per cup (200 mg per kg) — cannot be marketed commercially, and some varieties have been banned (38).
They are found in fried, baked, or roasted potatoes, but not fresh, boiled, or steamed ones (40Trusted Source, 41Trusted Source, 42). The amount of acrylamides increases with higher frying temperatures and longer cooking times (42). Compared to other foods, french fries and potato chips are very high in acrylamides (42).
These compounds are used as industrial chemicals, and acrylamide toxicity has been reported in people exposed to them in the workplace (43Trusted Source).
Although the amount of acrylamides in foods is generally low, long-term exposure may be harmful. Animal studies indicate that acrylamides may increase cancer risk and harm the brain and nervous system (44Trusted Source, 45Trusted Source, 46Trusted Source, 47Trusted Source).
However, numerous observational studies have investigated the effect of eating acrylamide-rich foods on cancer risk in humans, and most did not detect any significant adverse effects (49Trusted Source, 50Trusted Source, 51Trusted Source, 52Trusted Source, 53Trusted Source).
High intake of acrylamides may have adverse health effects over time, but the extent of these effects is unclear, and further studies are required.
For optimal health, it seems sensible to limit your consumption of french fries and potato chips.
French fries and potato chips
Potatoes have been blamed for contributing to obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.
The main reason for this is that potatoes are widely consumed as french fries and potato chips — high fat foods that harbor a number of unhealthy compounds. French fries are also frequently associated with fast food.
For this reason, high consumption of fried potatoes — especially french fries and chips — should be avoided.
Who should avoid potatoes?
Anyone with an allergy to potatoes or any of the compounds in potatoes should avoid eating them.
Some believe potatoes and other vegetables in the nightshade family exacerbate autoimmune conditions like IBS (58Trusted Source). However, more research is needed to know for sure whether individuals with autoimmune conditions should avoid potatoes.
Potatoes can be part of a nutrient-dense diet. However, fried potatoes, like french fries and potato chips, should be limited, especially in people who are trying to manage their weight or who have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease or diabetes.
Potatoes may contain a number of unhealthy compounds — particularly when fried. Limit your consumption of french fries and chips, and remove potato sprouts when preparing potatoes.
There are many ways to prepare potatoes. Different preparation methods result in different flavor and texture characteristics and also can greatly affect the nutrition content of the potatoes.
Here is a rundown of the most common ways to prepare potatoes and how these preparation methods affect nutrition content:
Boiling potatoes causes water-soluble nutrients, such as vitamin C and potassium, to leach out (2Trusted Source). This results in slightly less nutritious potatoes.
The longer you boil, the more nutrients are lost. Boiling potatoes in their skin helps to retain some of the water-soluble nutrients.
Fried potatoes are cooked in hot oil and include french fries and potato chips.
While the fast cooking time of frying helps preserve some of the nutrients, frying in oil significantly increases the fat content of potatoes, sometimes including trans fats, an unsaturated fat associated with a number of negative health effects (2Trusted Source).
Limiting your consumption of fried foods, like french fries or potato chips, is one of the best ways to lower your intake of trans fats. Frying potatoes also increases the formation of potentially harmful chemicals like acrylamides.
Perhaps the simplest way to prepare potatoes, baking requires only scrubbing the skin clean, pricking the skin with a fork to allow steam to escape, and baking the potatoes for about an hour at 425°F (218°C).
Baked potatoes retain more of the nutrients when compared with boiling or frying. They also offer more fiber, particularly if you eat the skin.
Keep in mind that typical toppings, like sour cream, cheese, or butter, can significantly change the nutrition profile of your potato, adding additional fat, calories, and sodium.
Roasting is similar to baking — some use the terms interchangeably. Typically, baked potatoes are cooked whole, whereas roasted potatoes are frequently chopped and tossed with oil and seasonings. Both are nutritious ways to prepare potatoes.
Here is an easy, healthy recipe for perfect roasted potatoes.
Microwaving potatoes is one of the most nutritious and fastest ways to prepare potatoes. Microwaving potatoes preserves many of the nutrients lost through other cooking methods (2Trusted Source).
How you prepare potatoes affects their nutrient composition. Baking, roasting, or microwaving potatoes with their skin on retains most of the nutrients. Boiled potatoes contain fewer water-soluble nutrients. Frying increases the formation of potentially harmful chemicals.
Potatoes are a popular high carb food that provides several healthy vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds. What’s more, they may aid weight management and help prevent heart disease.
However, this does not apply to fried potatoes — such as french fries and chips — that have been soaked in oil and cooked under high heat. For optimal health, it’s best to limit or avoid these products altogether.
Just one thing
Did you know that potatoes are remarkably shelf-stable? How long they last on your shelf depends on factors like whether they’ve been cooked and how they’re stored. Learn more about how long your potatoes will last.