Surprising health benefits of potatoes (and how to cook them in a healthy way)

Potatoes are often painted as a nutritional villain, but they're full of health benefits – if you know how to cook them

Roast potatoes
(Image credit: Getty Images)

When it comes to losing weight, diet is the most important part. Whether you're upping your protein intake with the best protein powder for weight loss or swapping out high-GI carbohydrates for sources of fat, like somebody on the keto diet might do, potatoes are often one of the first things to go. 

Considered a nutritional villain due to creamy, buttery mash, oil-soaked roast potatoes and processed, fatty French fries from fast-food outlet, there's actually a surprising amount of goodness in potatoes, providing they're prepared in a healthy way. 

Potatoes are rich in plenty of micronutrients, including vitamin C. Eaten with the skins on, 150g of potatoes account for roughly 45 percent of the recommended daily  vitamin C intake. Vitamin C is key in maintaining healthy skin cells, keeping us looking nice and young, as well as added benefits for blood vessels, immune system, bone and cartilage according to the UK's NHS

Potatoes

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Potatoes also contain vitamin B6, which can help the body to use and store energy from protein and carbohydrates in food – and considering potatoes are a great source of carbohydrates and energy, this added B6 is much needed. They are also a great source of fibre, which helps regulate digestion, as well as antioxidants which can help our bodies fight against inflammation and oxidisation, the precursors of cancer.

However, that's not to say you can just eat French fries all day and expect the same health benefits. Drowning your potatoes in vegetable oil, butter or cream, removing the skins and deep-fat frying or roasting them adds an enormous amount of calories to potatoes, removing many of the benefits.

What are you left with? A high-GI portion of starchy carbohydrates, that will raise your blood sugar levels and cause you to gain weight. This is why potatoes get a bad rap.

Instead, try something different. Use olive or vegetable oil sprays instead of dousing the potatoes in added saturated fats, bake them with the skins on, or try doing them in an air fryer. Air fryers use hot air currents and a small amount of circulated oil to fry, bake and roast their contents with a crisp, even coating, with a fraction of the added calories. Our best air fryer list is a good place to start. 

Matt Evans
Matt Evans

Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and Channel Editor at Fit&Well. He's previously written for titles like Men's Health and Red Bull, and covers all things exercise and nutrition on the Fit&Well website. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen kickboxer and runner. His top fitness tip? Stretch.