In 1848, mentioning a potato was akin to cursing. The blighted crop had left thousands throughout Ireland without food. It was sending people from their homes, forcing them to America or for many, to their graves. It was the reason families were being torn apart, children were being orphaned and loves were being lost. But 150 years later, with the Potato Famine far behind us, we, the world at large, are taking a different stance on the potato. Rather than cursing it, we are opting to celebrate the now much loved plant, for an entire year.
That’s right. We are currently one month into the International Year of the Potato, a year devoted to highlighting the importance of potatoes and agriculture in general. The creators of this celebration are hoping to educate the people on the potato’s ability to feed a growing population with limited resources. They are focusing on the crop’s ability to be grown in harsh climates, on small amounts of land while feeding large quantities of people, filling them with satiety and nutrients. All are good points, but we are going to focus on just one of them: the health inside of a potato.
Its starchy, carb-filled nature and our tendency to fry or smother it in fat, does not always provide the potato with a sparkling reputation. However, beneath the sour cream and cheese, the potato is loaded with nutrients. One medium sized potato, with the skin, provides you with half of your daily vitamin C, one fifth of your potassium, 2 grams of fiber and tons of B6 and iron. Plus, it offers you a healthy dose of protein, for only 100 calories. And the carb conundrum? Assuming it’s not accompanied by six pounds of bread, it can be a good thing. You do need some carbs for energy, so why not a potato?
The only difficulty may lie in making sure the potato stays healthy. After all, it tastes so good fried . . . or baked, with thick pads of butter and heaping dollops of sour cream. Oh! Or you could mash them, mixing the whipped concoction with a slab of bacon and pound of cheese. And then – then you can kiss the health goodbye.
Find healthy ways to enjoy your potatoes. Limit the add-ons to vegetables, lighter condiments and low-fat/no-fat dairy. Celebrate the International Year of the Potato without destroying your health.
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