Health Benefits of Baked Potatoes

Potatoes have been a staple food around the world for centuries. Historically, many communities have relied on these root vegetables to meet the majority of their nutritional needs.

In addition to being a satisfying snack, potatoes are easy to grow and can be found all across the globe. In recent years, the popularity of low-carb diets has caused some people to avoid potatoes. In reality, baked potatoes are packed with nutrients and can be part of a healthy diet.

Health Benefits

Despite the current trend toward low-carb diets, there are a lot of reasons to eat baked potatoes.

Reduces Inflammation

Baked potatoes are packed with choline, an essential nutrient that most people in the United States don’t eat enough of. Current research suggests that choline deficiency may be at least partly to blame for inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. By eating baked potatoes, you can increase the choline in your body and reduce inflammation.

Digestion

Baked potatoes are high in fiber, which helps with digestion. A high-fiber diet can help both diarrhea and constipation. People with digestive conditions like irritable bowel syndrome may find the fiber in baked potatoes especially helpful for managing symptoms and regulating digestion.

Weight Control

The fiber in baked potatoes aids with digestion and vitamin B6 helps break down carbohydrates and improves metabolism. This winning combination can be great for weight loss and weight management.

Heart Health

Nearly one third of Americans have high cholesterol, putting them at higher risk for heart disease and stroke. Baked potatoes are a naturally low-fat, low-cholesterol food. They're also packed with potassium, which some research suggests can greatly reduce risks of heart disease.

Nutrients per Serving

One medium-sized baked potato contains:

  • Calories: 161
  • Fat: Less than 1 gram
  • Sodium: 17 milligrams
  • Carbohydrates: 37 grams
  • Dietary fiber: 4 grams
  • Protein: 4 grams

In addition to providing a low-fat, low-cholesterol source of carbohydrates and protein, baked potatoes are also nutrient-dense. In fact, a potato has more potassium than a banana. Some of the most important nutrients baked potatoes provide include:

  • Potassium
  • Calcium
  • Vitamin C
  • Iron
  • Vitamin B6
  • Magnesium

Potatoes are high in carbs, but not as high as some other starchy staples, like pasta and rice. For people with diabetes one small potato has about 15 grams of carbohydrates.

Continued

How to Prepare Baked Potatoes

When you make baked potatoes, it's important to wash the potatoes well. Potato skins are one of the most nutritious parts of the vegetable, but you have to clean them before they’re safe to eat. Washing the potato thoroughly helps rid it of any fertilizers or chemicals that may have been sprayed on it while it was being grown.

There are two main ways to make baked potatoes: in the oven or in the microwave.

To make baked potatoes in the oven, rub them with olive oil and seasoning. Place your potatoes on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake them for 45 minutes to an hour at 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

To cook a baked potato in the microwave, poke holes throughout the potato using a fork. Place the potato on a microwave-safe plate and cook for 5 minutes. Flip the potato and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Continue this process until your potato is cooked through.

Check your potatoes by poking with a fork. You'll know your baked potatoes are done cooking when your fork sticks easily into them.

Baked potatoes can be served as a side dish, or you can load them up with toppings to make the main course. Other ideas for enjoying baked potatoes include:

  • Adding meat and gravy on top.
  • Using it to replace rice in a favorite recipe.
  • Eating with a little ketchup in place of French fries.
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Arefa Cassoobhoy, MD, MPH on August 17, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

Archives of Internal Medicine: "Sodium and potassium intake and mortality among US adults: prospective data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey."

Cells: " Vitamin B6 and Its Role in Cell Metabolism and Physiology."

CDC: "Cholesterol."

CDC: "Cholesterol Myths and Facts."

Mayo Clinic: "Dietary Fiber: Essential for a Healthy Diet."

Mayo Clinic: "Obesity."

National Institutes of Health: "Choline Fact Sheet for Professionals."

© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

Pagination

Get Diet and Fitness Tips In Your Inbox

Eat better and exercise smarter. Sign up for the Food & Fitness newsletter.

By clicking Subscribe, I agree to the WebMD Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of WebMD subscriptions at any time.