Health Benefits Of Potatoes


We often tend to turn towards health blogs when it comes to searching for the health benefits of even the simplest of things in the world. And what better can it be than our very own potatoes? These seemingly simple food are full of nutrition and all things good for your health. Besides being a storehouse of useful nutrients, they are also a feast for the taste palate. 

The rising concern about their high glycemic index (the capacity of a carbohydrate-based food to increase the blood glucose level) , they have been in the spotlight as to how many potatoes are actually good for our health, if at all. Since they have this quality of blending in with most of the other vegetables, they are particularly prone to be scrutinized for their daily intake. 

This article will take you on a journey to explore your most loved vegetable and provide you with insights into its potential health benefits. Moreover, it will also ensure that you understand its limit of use and how not to over consume it. To commence the journey, let's look at their amazing health benefits first.

About potatoes

To properly understand the benefits of potatoes for our health, let us first understand where they come from. Potatoes belong to the nightshade family, some other members being tomatoes, tobacco, peppers, and tomatillos. They are eaten in most parts of the world and are often considered among those vegetables which are quite friendly to be paired with a lot of other eatables on the plate. 

After rice and wheat, potatoes are the third-most important food crop in the globe in terms of human consumption. Global crop production surpasses 300 million metric tonnes, and more than one billion people consume potatoes. They can be grown anywhere from southern Chile to the Arctic, from sea level up to 4,700 meters above sea level.

In developing nations, the area dedicated to potato cultivation has grown more quickly than any other crop since the early 1960s. They are a crucial component of food stability for millions of people in Asia, Central Asia, Africa, and South America. Today, developing nations produce more than half of the world's potatoes.1

Potato is Scientifically known as Solanum tuberosum. It is a crop that is grown in most parts of the world that has a comparatively better nutrient-to-price ratio than various other fruits and vegetables.2 There are about 4000 existing varieties of potato but among them, the most common ones are white, fingerling, yellow, purple, petite, russet, sweet, and red potatoes. 

A variety of factors may affect the makeup of the potato tuber itself, including genotype, growth-related environmental conditions, post-harvest storage conditions, cooking, and processing, thereby affecting the bioavailability of its constituent parts, which in turn affect its final bioactivity. It bestows our diet with the third highest quantity of phenolic content, after oranges and apples among other fruits and vegetables.3

Health benefits of potatoes

As already stated, potatoes are a rich source of phenolic compounds. What we mean by phenolic compounds are the beneficial compounds that they are filled with. Antioxidants filled into phenolic compounds, in turn, help in scavenging those ‘not so healthy’ free radicals in our bodies. In simple terms, we can think of phenolic compounds as essential cleansers for the human body or protection response from bacteria, virus, fungi, and insect. 

Numerous studies have also found a link between the consumption of polyphenols and a decreased risk of developing cancer, cardiovascular, and neurodegenerative diseases. However, these beneficial effects could not only be ascribed to the antioxidants in polyphenols. Today, a variety of "non-antioxidant" complex activities, such as anti-inflammatory effects and other effects that do not necessarily entail a free radical inhibition, are being used to explain the health benefits of polyphenols. Apart from this, beta-carotene, vitamins, and minerals also enhance their antioxidant profile. 

Other carotenoids, such as lutein, zeaxanthin, and violaxanthin, are found mostly in yellow and red potatoes, although small amounts are also found in white potatoes. Their consumption is linked with a lower incidence of many acute and chronic diseases, such as neurodegenerative, cardiovascular, cancer, and others. The majority (>50%) of the beneficial nutrients are present in the potato flesh. On the other hand, the skin is a rich source of dietary fiber.

Nutrients we can get from potatoes

Potatoes are a reservoir of starch, which falls in the category of carbohydrates. That is why they are often the first ones to enter the list of carbohydrate-rich energy-giving foods. Potato starch contains two subunits, amylose and amylopectin. Some of the starch does not get degraded in the gut into its basic components and reaches the large intestine. 

Upon fermentation by the microflora present in the large intestine, it produces short-chain fatty acids which act as prebiotics and begins the process of proliferation of advantageous gut microbiota.4 Dietary fiber is the next key element that is abundantly found in potatoes. It makes up 2 g in an approximately 5.3 oz potato. To provide an account of the micronutrients that enrich the potatoes, the first one is Vitamin C, which accounts for about 27 mg in a medium (5.2 oz) potato. 

Although they may not be able to compete with the other generally regarded rich sources of Vitamin C such as citrus fruits and peppers, yet they are valued as an ‘excellent source’ of Vitamin C by the FDA. They are a considerably better source of concentrated potassium and are often undervalued in front of the generally accredited potassium-containing foods such as bananas, oranges, and broccoli.5 

They are also a good source of the B family of Vitamins, including folate, thiamine, riboflavin, and pyridoxine. Vitamin A, magnesium, and iron can also be found in these diverse tubers. The red potato family includes red desiree potatoes, which are regarded as the healthiest potatoes because they have the greatest concentrations of vitamins, minerals, and beneficial phytochemicals. They are infused with B vitamins and anti-cancer properties that aid in the creation of energy and digestion.

Ways to use & include potatoes in our health

Looking into the domain of cooking, there are a variety of ways in which potatoes can be cooked and eaten. Some of the commonly employed techniques include boiling, steaming, and frying. Cooking vegetables essentially defines which nutrients are going to be preserved and which ones are going to be degraded in the process. 

Cooking potatoes at high temperatures has been linked with the production of acrylamide- a potential carcinogen (cancer causing agent). This has been the topic of discussion among scientists for a long time now. Acrylamide is associated with the potential risk of nerve damage, presenting itself in the form of muscle weakness and compromised muscle coordination. 

Among the cooked food varieties of potatoes which have been linked with this risk are french fries and potato chips. Boiled, mashed potatoes, on the other hand, are healthier alternatives to cooking them. They are quite healthy for people looking out for options to include potatoes in their weight loss regimen.

Storage conditions also have an impact on the final quality of potatoes, as does the cooking. The simplest way to prevent potatoes from sprouting or going bad is to store them in a cool, dark area of your home or pantry (between 10 and 18°C). Avoid refrigeration as well because it turns potatoes' starch into sugar, giving them a sweeter flavor but ultimately making them soft and gray, ruining your next meal. 

How has potato consumption affected human health?

Due to their high glycemic index (GI), potatoes have been linked with the risk of developing cardiometabolic disorders, type II diabetes, and obesity.6 However, the wide range of GI values for potatoes due to compositional variations among cultivars and food preparation techniques suggests that customer preferences could affect this adverse effect. 

Alternately, recent analyses of potato makeup showed that potatoes contain much more than just starch. In fact, it includes crucial phytochemicals that may improve human health and ward off diseases like type II diabetes, cardiovascular problems, and some cancers. 

In specific, studies on animals and people have shown that potatoes and potato components have positive effects on a number of measures of cardiometabolic health, including lowering blood pressure, enhancing lipid profiles, and reducing inflammatory markers. Because potatoes are gluten-free, they are a crucial source of nutrient-dense carbohydrates in the diets of people with celiac disease and/or gluten intolerance. 

How much is enough?

Research suggests that including one to two medium-sized potatoes in our everyday diet is actually a healthy option to ward off diseases. They do not raise any concerns for cardiovascular diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes, or stroke but instead enrich our everyday diet with the essential nutrients that are required for the human body. 

The important point to be noted is that the method of cooking them should not involve deep frying or any other method which allows for their interaction with saturated fats or oils, or salt for that matter. Steaming and boiling are healthy options to opt for. This helps to preserve the advantageous elements of these tubers and does not lead to the loss of nutrients or the creation of any new unfavorable compounds. 


Potatoes are such diverse and versatile vegetables that they can easily transform themselves into moving from the ‘most loved’ ones to being the ‘carefully eaten’ ones. While considering the health benefits of potatoes, they are actually quite valuable if cooked in the right way. And by the right way, we mean the avoidance of too much fat or a prolonged cooking time. 

Careful analysis of the cooking methods of any vegetable for that matter can save a lot of nutrients. To better distinguish potato consumption from other known risk factors, randomized controlled intervention trials examining the effect of potato consumption on various health outcomes and disease states are required. 

Currently, there is a lack of experimental data regarding the impact of potato consumption on obesity, weight management, and/or diabetes. Nutritional advice should continue to emphasize the significance of healthy eating patterns that include a range of vegetables, including nutrient-dense potatoes, up until that time. 

However, keeping a check on the cooking methods will also go a long way in keeping your health problems at bay and keep you away from reading too much unnecessary information on the web!


  1. Potato facts and figures [Internet]. International Potato Center. [cited 2023 Mar 12]. Available from:
  2. Drewnowski A. The Nutrient Rich Foods Index helps to identify healthy, affordable foods. The American journal of clinical nutrition. 2010 Apr 1;91(4):1095S-101S.
  3. Tian J, Chen J, Ye X, Chen S. Health benefits of the potato affected by domestic cooking: A review. Food Chemistry. 2016 Jul 1;202:165-75.
  4. Beals KA. Potatoes, nutrition and health. American journal of potato research. 2019 Apr 15;96(2):102-10.
  5. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. 2015. Scientific Report.
  6. Andre CM, Legay S, Iammarino C, Ziebel J, Guignard C, Larondelle Y, Hausman JF, Evers D, Miranda LM. The potato in the human diet: a complex matrix with potential health benefits. Potato Research. 2014 Dec;57:201-14.
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Vridhi Sachdeva

Master of Pharmacy- MPharm, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, India

Vridhi is a Formulation Scientist with experience in the Research & Development sector of the pharmaceutical industry. She works on novel drug delivery systems to enhance active pharmaceutical ingredients' therapeutic potential and reduce the associated side effects. Her collective passion for improving the health of people and writing has led her to write and edit science and health-related articles.

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