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TEXARKANA, Ark. –
Sometimes a particular food gets a bad reputation. It can be labeled “fatty” or “junk,”
based on widely held misconceptions. Due to a variety of fad diets in the past, potatoes
have developed a reputation for making you fat. In fact, a number of carbohydrates
were shunned, which we now know is not in good practice with a healthy diet.
Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy for your body. Think of a car needing
gasoline; that’s what carbohydrates do for our body. Carbohydrates provide the fuel
for your muscles and organs, such as your brain. If you don’t eat enough carbohydrates,
it can cause fatigue, cramping and poor mental function.
Potatoes are a great source of energy, as are foods like whole-wheat breads, pastas,
and brown rice. Carbohydrates should be consumed in moderation. The general rule of
thumb is about 50 to 55 percent of your total calories should come from carbohydrates.
If you are on a low-carb diet, you should consult an expert dietician, as this can
be harmful if taken to an extreme.
Another positive attribute of potatoes is that they are a resistant starch. This means
they are not broken down in the small intestines, and tend to be digested more like
a fiber in the colon. They help keep you full longer, prevent constipation, and for
some Type II diabetics, help control your blood sugar levels.
As with most foods, potatoes can be turned unhealthy rather quickly. All you have
to do is add some sour cream, lots of butter, salt, and fry them. Baking, grilling,
broiling, sautéing, or steaming is all great ways to cook your potatoes. Cook with
olive oil instead of butter to lower the fat content.
To keep your potatoes healthy, be sure to leave the skin on as it is the source of
dietary fiber. Most of the nutrients in a potato are found in the skin. If you do
peel the potato, use a vegetable peeler instead of a knife to remove only a thin layer
of skin and retains the nutrients that lie underneath. Clean and cut your potatoes
right before cooking to prevent discoloration.
Eating a potato is similar to eating a salad. It is the toppings or dressings that
are the culprits. Use fresh or dry herbs and spices rather than salt and use cheese
sparingly. One serving size is a medium-size potato.
Potatoes are a source of vitamin C, an antioxidant that may reduce your risk of heart
disease and certain cancers. Vitamin C helps protect skin from bruising, helps heal
cuts and keeps gums healthy. Eating foods with vitamin C helps the body absorb iron.
Potatoes are also a source of potassium, magnesium and fiber. Potassium helps maintain
healthy blood pressure, magnesium helps build and maintain strong bones, and fiber
helps control cholesterol and keeps you regular.
Choose clean, firm, smooth potatoes that are not green in color and don’t have sprouts.
Reject potatoes with large cuts, cracks, bruises, decay, sprouting eyes or shriveling.
Store in a cool, dark place with good ventilation for up to 1 month. Throw away potatoes
that are shriveled or sprouted. Avoid storing potatoes in the refrigerator. The cool
temperature favors the accumulation of sugar, giving the potato a sweet flavor and
dark color when cooked. Click or call our office at 870-779-3609 and request your
free copy of Arkansas’ Fresh Potatoes, which is full of recipes and information. Also check the local farmers markets for
fresh, locally-grown potatoes.
Rosemary Roasted Red Potatoes
2 pounds red potatoes, cut into wedges
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 sprigs of rosemary, chopped
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a large roasting pan, combine the potatoes, oil,
rosemary and garlic. Toss to evenly coat. Bake for 45 minutes, turning halfway through
the cooking time or until golden and tender.
By Carla Due County Extension Agent - FCSThe Cooperative Extension ServiceU of A System Division of Agriculture
Media Contact: Carla Due County Extension Agent - FCSU of A Division of AgricultureCooperative Extension Service400 Laurel Street, Suite 215 Texarkana AR 71854 (870) 779-3609 firstname.lastname@example.org
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