The potato gets a bad rap as a high-carb food that can boost blood sugar levels and increase obesity risks, particularly when fried or loaded up with butter, sour cream, or cheese. But new research suggests that reputation is unfair and, in fact, the lowly spud offers a better nutritional value than many raw vegetables.
The new study, "Vegetable Cost Metrics Show That Potatoes and Beans Provide Most Nutrients Per Penny," was published in the Public Library or Science journal PLOS ONE and shows that potatoes are one of the best nutritional values in the produce aisle.
According to the study, potatoes are among the best and most affordable sources of potassium — second only to beans.
Adam Drewnowski and colleagues from the University of Washington examined nutrient levels and national food prices of more than 100 vegetables and subgroups to create an "affordability index" that calculated the nutrients per unit cost. The results indicated while dark green vegetables had the highest nutrient density scores, after accounting for cost, starchy vegetables (including potatoes) and beans provided better nutritional value for the money.
Potatoes, in particular, provide one of the lowest cost options for potassium, fiber, vitamin C, and magnesium. Potatoes and beans were also the lowest-cost sources of potassium and fiber — nutrients of concern, as identified by U.S. Department of Agriculture Dietary Guidelines.
"The ability to identify affordable, nutrient dense vegetables is important to families focused on stretching their food dollar as well as government policy makers looking to balance nutrition and economics for food programs such as the school lunch program and WIC," said Drewnowski. "And, when it comes to affordable nutrition, it's hard to beat potatoes."
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