Compelling Reasons to Dig into Red Potatoes

By Anne Palumbo

Potato
Potato

Baby red potatoes are my go-to variety of potato and here’s why: They offer a smidge more nutritional benefit than white; their nutritious skin is easily edible; they affect our blood sugar levels slightly less than white; and they hold their shape when roasted or boiled.

First, let’s unearth a potato’s nutrition.

From red to white to purple, this popular vegetable delivers the same nutritional goods across the board.

All potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C (nearly half of our daily needs in one serving) and a good source of potassium (more than a banana). Antioxidant-rich vitamin C is vital to our overall health, helping to repair tissues and boost immunity. Potassium, on the other hand, helps to maintain normal blood pressure and keeps the hardest working muscle in our body beating strong.

Potato saladNaturally low in fat, sodium and cholesterol, potatoes also serve up healthy amounts of disease-preventing fiber, mood-boosting vitamin B 6, and bone-strengthening manganese. Un-doctored and simply boiled or roasted, potatoes are not that caloric: around 110 per average serving. Deep-fry them in oil or smother them with the works, however, and this healthy spud quickly becomes a nutritional dud.

Red potatoes are moderately more nutritious than white because of their thin, rosy-hued skin, which comes packed with nutrients, fiber and health-promoting phytochemicals. Their red color also means they contain anthocyanins, a specific antioxidant that may fend off major health problems, including heart disease, cancer and obesity. Studies have found that red- and purple-skinned potatoes have nearly two to three times more antioxidant powder than white.

Potatoes have gotten a bad reputation for causing weight gain and having a high glycemic index (GI), a measurement of how quickly a food raises blood sugar. But, according to experts at Tufts University, the type of potato, the preparation method, and the foods eaten in tandem can lower the GI. Recent studies suggest the following to lower this tasty tuber’s GI: choose fingerling or red potatoes, elect to boil or roast, and pair potatoes with protein-rich foods to slow digestion and slow the release of glucose into the blood.

Cream Potato Salad with Lemon and Fresh Herbs

Adapted from Bon Appetit; serves 8

3 pounds baby red potatoes, washed and dried
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon coarse black pepper
¾ cup plain Greek yogurt
2 ½ tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 garlic clove, minced
½ cup chopped fresh dill
½ cup chopped fresh basil
2 celery stalks, diced
3 green onions, thinly sliced
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Cut the potatoes in half (or quarters, if large) and place in a bowl with 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt and pepper; toss until the potatoes are well coated. Dump the potatoes on two baking sheets, spread out into 1 layer, and roast for 35-40 minutes, flipping once with a spatula during cooking to ensure even browning.

While the potatoes are cooking, combine the yogurt, remaining olive oil, lemon juice, zest, and garlic in a large bowl. Add the herbs, celery and green onions on top (don’t stir yet). When the potatoes are cool, add them to the large bowl, stirring gently to combine (hands work great!). Taste and adjust seasonings.

Helpful tips:

Go easy on the add-ins and caloric toppings (one meager pat of butter adds 100 calories); avoid processed potatoes, like chips and fries. Select firm potatoes, minus sprouts and green coloration. Store potatoes in a cool, dark place — away from onions, as they cause potatoes to spoil faster

Anne Palumbo is a lifestyle columnist, food guru, and seasoned cook, who has perfected the art of preparing nutritious, calorie-conscious dishes. She is hungry for your questions and comments about SmartBites, so be in touch with Anne at avpalumbo@aol.com.

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