White vegetables have same health benefits as more colorful ones and many culinary advantages

White Vegetables Offer Health and Culinary Benefits

WHITE VEGETABLES HAVE SAME HEALTH BENEFITS AS MORE COLORFUL ONES AND MANY CULINARY ADVANTAGES

This blog was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated in July 2013, but you can read the original post here.

There’s so much talk about the health benefits of eating colorful fruits and vegetables, I think the white ones get over looked. That’s too bad because they are a source of important nutrients, just like the more colorful ones, and winter is the perfect time to incorporate the many white vegetables into your meals while they are in season.

The most popular white vegetables eaten year round are potatoes, onions, and cauliflower. But the cold weather months are when parsnips, turnips, and kohlrabi should be added to your shopping list. You’ve probably seen them in the produce aisle and walked right past them in pursuit of some dark green kale or bright orange squash, but don’t be deceived by their pale hue. They are nutrition powerhouses, too.

Another way to get more white vegetables into your diet is by adding more of the aromatic varieties to your recipes. Think garlic, shallots, leek, and ginger to provide a big boost of flavor to any dish. If your salads need more crunch during the long winter months when garden is bare, turn to white jicama and Jerusalem artichokes, also known as Sunchokes. Both can be eaten raw or cooked and stored in the refrigerator for 1-3 weeks.

And don’t forget mushrooms, my personal favorite! They are one of the most versatile white vegetables you can have in your kitchen. Mushrooms provide a meaty texture, the savory taste known as umami, and an important source of Vitamin D, which no other vegetable has. They are also low in calories, fat-free, cholesterol-free and very low in sodium.

For recipes and information on storage and selections visit:

Fruits & Veggies More Matters

U.S. Potato Board

Mushroom Council

don't beleive all the myths people dig up about potatoes

Five More Myths about Potatoes

This blog was originally written as a guest blog for the Alliance for Potato Education & Research. You can see the post here.

With the start of fall comes the start of the potato harvest, the busiest time of year for potato growers. Since I busted several potato nutrition myths earlier this year, this seemed like a good time to return and address some other misperceptions so you can get beyond the myths and enjoy nutritious and delicious potatoes more often this harvest season and all year round.

MYTH #1. MOST PEOPLE EAT TOO MANY POTATOES.

Contrary to popular belief, the consumption of potatoes in all forms is well within current food intake recommendations. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend 2 – 8 cups of starchy vegetables per week (based upon calorie needs) and potatoes fall into this vegetable subgroup, yet Americans only eat about 50% of the vegetables they should. One way to close this gap is to eat more potatoes since research suggests that consumers of white potatoes, on average, eat more vegetables than those who don’t eat potatoes.

MYTH #2. MOST COOKING METHODS DESTROY THE NUTRIENTS IN POTATOES.

While boiling potatoes does cause a small loss of water-soluble nutrients like vitamin C and vitamin B6, the white potato retains most, if not all, of its potassium and dietary fiber regardless of cooking method, such as baking, boiling, or frying. You might be surprised to learn that frying, because it decreases water, actually increases the concentration of key nutrients including potassium. In fact, a recent study found that on a gram weight basis the white potato in all of its cooked forms provides more potassium and as much dietary fiber as other commonly consumed fruit and vegetables.

MYTH #3. ADDING TOPPINGS TO BAKED POTATOES MAKES THEM TOO HIGH IN FAT AND CALORIES.

The only thing coming between you and a great tasting baked potato is your imagination! Traditional toppings like butter, sour cream and bacon bits can be high in fat and calories, but there are plenty of others that are not. Here’s a list of tasty and nutritious toppings to help you discover many new ways to top a baked potato. Use just one or try a combination to create the perfect flavor profile for you.

Dijon Mustard Sautéed Mushrooms Crumbled Feta Cheese

Low-fat Greek Yogurt Caramelized Onions Grated Smoked Gouda

Chunky Salsa Sliced Scallions Melted Pepper Jack Cheese

Marinara Sauce Diced Black Olives Shaved Parmesan Cheese

Guacamole Black Beans Shredded Manchego Cheese

MYTH #4. IF I GIVE MY CHILDREN POTATOES AT DINNER, THEY’LL FILL UP ON THEM AND WON’T EAT THEIR VEGETABLES.

One thing most parents quickly find out when planning family-friendly meals is that children love potatoes! That’s good news for kids and parents alike because potatoes are vegetables and provide the same key nutrients, or more, than other family favorites. For example, a medium baked potato provides more vitamin C than 5 cherry tomatoes, more potassium than a banana or a cup of chopped broccoli, and more folate than a large carrot, plus it’s a good source of fiber and vitamin B6. And research shows children who consumed potatoes that were baked, boiled, mashed or roasted actually ate more other vegetables, too.

MYTH #5. FRESH POTATOES SPOIL TOO QUICKLY, AND THEN THEY MUST BE THROWN AWAY.

Potatoes actually last much longer than most fresh vegetables. According to the Idaho Potato Commission, by storing them in a cool, dark place, between 45 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit, they can last several weeks. If held at room temperature potatoes will keep for about one week. An easy way to prevent spoilage is to not buy more potatoes than you can properly store and use in that amount of time.

If you see a greenish color on your potatoes it may be chlorophyll, a natural plant pigment that is tasteless and harmless if eaten. Greening of potatoes may also indicate the presence of excess solanine, another natural compound produced in potatoes by exposure to light. Since solanine makes the potato taste bitter, and it’s not possible to tell by looking whether it’s chlorophyll or solanine making the potato green, it’s best to peel the potato to remove the green parts before cooking.

Sprouting on a potato is a sign the potato is trying to grow and should be cut away before cooking or eating. Proper storage will help reduce sprouting.

Disclosure Statement: Robyn Flipse was compensated by the Alliance for Potato Research & Education for her services as a guest blogger, but all opinions expressed here are her own.

Don't let myths about potatoes keep you from benefiting from this nutritious vegetable

Top 5 Potato Myths

This blog was originally written as a guest blog for the Alliance for Potato Education & Research. You can see the post here.

Some foods have been in the human diet so long that the history of our survival is inseparable from theirs. The potato is one of them. Yet even with this shared legacy, some myths persist about the value of the potato in our diets. Letting the facts speak for themselves is the best way to put these myths to rest so we can all continue to enjoy America’s favorite vegetable!

MYTH #1. POTATOES HAVE NO NUTRITIONAL VALUE; THEY’RE NOTHING BUT CARBS.

This myth would disappear if fresh potatoes were sold with a Nutrition Facts panel like those found on all packaged foods. The Nutrition Facts panel to the right shows what one would look like for one medium baked potato, flesh and skin, without salt.

The Nutrition Facts panel [i] shows that a medium baked potato is an excellent source of potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin B6; plus, it’s a good source of fiber, folate, and the essential minerals phosphorus and magnesium. Add to that the 4 grams of protein and you have a nutrition powerhouse!

potaot facts

These Nutrition Facts provide plenty of evidence that there is no truth to the myth that potatoes are “nothing but carbs,” but there’s more. Most of the carbohydrate found in potatoes is the complex type, so it delivers a steady source of energy to our bodies. And emerging research shows that some of the carbohydrate in potatoes is a type called “resistant starch,” which may help regulate blood glucose levels and favorably alter bacteria in the large intestines, among other health benefits.

MYTH #2. SWEET POTATOES ARE THE ONLY NUTRITIOUS POTATOES DUE TO THEIR BRIGHT ORANGE COLOR.

Color is an easy way to identify nutrient-rich vegetables, but that doesn’t mean the white, tan, and brown ones are not as good. Potatoes, onions, and cauliflower are just a few of the “white” vegetables that provide us with key nutrients, such as potassium, fiber, and vitamin C. But white vegetables can be overlooked if we only focus on the dark green and red and orange vegetable subgroups named in USDA’s MyPlate. White vegetables are also an important source of many phytonutrients that do not yet appear in food composition tables, but are believed to have significant health benefits, such as the colorless flavonoids quercetin and kaempferol found in potatoes.

All types of potatoes can make big nutritional contributions to the diet, so don’t limit yourself to any one type or color. Enjoy them all as part of your healthy diet!

MYTH #3. THE SKIN IS THE ONLY NUTRITIOUS PART OF A POTATO.

There are essential nutrients in every part of the potato—flesh and skin—so enjoy the whole vegetable to get the best nutritional value. The nutrients aren’t just skin deep; potatoes provide key nutrients, including fiber and potassium, whether eaten with or without the skin. A medium baked potato with skin contains 920 mg potassium and 3.6 g fiber, and without skin, 676 mg potassium and 2.6 g fiber. You can prepare potatoes peeled or unpeeled to increase your culinary options in dishes like potato salad or mashed potatoes.

MYTH #4. ONLY FRESH POTATOES ARE NUTRITIOUS; OTHER VARIETIES ARE TOO PROCESSED.

All of the potatoes we enjoy are processed to some degree before we eat them because even cooking is a type of processing. Whether you start with fresh potatoes or one of the other more convenient forms available, they all provide us with key nutrients, like fiber and potassium. Food companies that freeze or process potatoes use similar methods we would use if preparing them that way at home, just on a larger scale. A big advantage to having all these different types of potatoes is that it makes it easier to eat them more often. As a result, potatoes are among the best nutritional values in the produce aisle or frozen vegetable case.

MYTH #5. FRENCH FRIES ARE TOO HIGH IN FAT TO BE PART OF A HEALTHY DIET.

The good news about French fries is that leading manufacturers and most restaurant operators are now cooking them in oil that is trans-fat free and a source of beneficial mono- and polyunsaturated fats. Industry reports also show that new frying techniques can reduce fat absorption by as much as 50% compared to traditional frying methods. And market leaders are going the extra step to provide consumers with even more choices, like the new SATISFRIES™ at Burger King that have 40% less fat and 30% fewer calories per serving.

We’ve just scratched the surface of potato myths and will be sharing more myth-busting facts about potatoes in a future post!

Disclosure Statement: Robyn Flipse was compensated by the Alliance for Potato Research & Education for her services as a guest blogger, but all opinions expressed here are her own.


[i] Nutrition Facts panel information calculated from USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 26, 2013. Potato, baked, flesh and skin, without salt (11674).