Potatoes Are More Nutritious Than You Might Have Thought

While many love to eat potatoes in the form of French fries, some may argue that they might not be the healthiest option (per Forbes). Still, potatoes rank as America's most craveable vegetable, according to Idaho Potato — 24% of Americans say they crave them the most, followed by leafy greens at 20%. And since it's something the average American eats over 100 pounds of per year, you might want it to be at least somewhat nutritious.

Often associated with the U.S. (thanks to our mass consumption of the tubular vegetable), the adaptable potato was first harvested about 8,000 years ago in the South American Andes, and began to be consumed by Europeans in the 16th century, when explorers returned home with them, according to the BBC. The vegetable then spread across the continent and eventually back to the Americas with the early explorers and settlers. Food historian Rebecca Earle told the BBC that while potatoes may be from South America, they've become a global food because they're grown all over the world. 

Optimizing the potato's healthy properties

One of the top benefits of consuming potatoes is the amount of fiber they can add to your diet, says WebMD; they also contain a ton of antioxidants and can help to keep cholesterol and blood sugar levels lower. Potatoes contain several nutrients that Medical News Today says can help keep a body's bones strong and prevent osteoporosis, including iron, calcium, and magnesium. The potato's fiber, potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin B6 content, coupled with its lack of cholesterol, all support heart health. According to Healthline, many of a potato's nutrients lie in its skin, which is why it's important to leave your potato unpeeled whenever possible. 

While potatoes are pretty low in calories, what you add to the vegetable (and how you cook it) can definitely raise its caloric content. According to Delish, there are plenty of healthy ways to prepare potatoes, like roasting them, grilling them, or making a mayo-free potato salad. Next time you are craving a filling potato, try cooking with an air fryer (and maybe skip the bacon and sour cream).