How to hero your produce

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By Gemma Carroll

In recent media there has been a lot of noise about superfoods.

A superfood is defined as being rich in compounds beneficial to a person’s health. It’s a nutrient dense food.

It’s definitely time for our ‘humble’ spud to take it’s place in the spotlight.

There has been too much chatter in the past, due to diet fads like Atkins and Keto, about potatoes being empty calories, lacking nutrition, merely filling and even worse fattening.

We need to put things straight, we need to re-educate our consumers.

Potatoes are not just carbohydrates. They are nutritious and have fed people for 100s of years.

The sexy six spudtastic facts:

1. Highly absorbable minerals

Potassium, magnesium, copper, calcium, phosphorus, zinc and iron – all critical minerals for health. 

The low phytic acid content of potatoes allows for the optimal absorption of these minerals, making potatoes more nutritious than starch options like rice, pasta and bread.

Some nutrients like iron are enriched in potato skins while others like potassium and magnesium are more abundant in the flesh. Encourage consumers to eat the whole spud – zero waste and all the good stuff the body needs.

2. Vitamin C

One medium potato has 40 mg of vitamin C. Despite losing 30% of it in cooking, the remaining 15 mg makes up 1/5 of the daily recommended intake. Think immunity!!!

3. Potatoes are satiating

They really are the most satisfying vege and leave you feeling full. Due to their capacity to keep hunger at bay, potatoes prepared healthily (baked, roasted or sautéed) can be a nutritious part of a balanced weight loss diet.

Note: Potatoes have been shunned by many because of their high glycemic index (GI), a measure of a food’s capacity to raise blood glucose. This can be a problem for people with poor blood sugar control, like type II diabetics, who should limit their intake of high GI foods. Interestingly, studies have shown that cooling or adding vinegar substantially lowers the GI of potatoes. There are also lo-carb potatoes available on the market now.

4. B vitamins

Crucial for cell renewal, DNA and protein synthesis, energy production and synthesis of mood-boosting chemicals like serotonin. Potatoes provide a significant amount of vitamin B6 as well as niacin (B3), folate (B9) and choline (B4), the last of which boosts brain function.

5. Potatoes have complete protein

A medium potato has 4g of protein, nearly 10% of the recommended daily intake. A complete protein is that which contains all 9 essential amino acids, spuds are only lacking 3 of them; tryptophan, methionine and cysteine in low amounts. To remedy this just add butter, cheese or a dollop of Greek yoghurt. Yum baked spuds here we come!!!

6. Resistant starch for a healthy gut

Cooked and cooled potatoes contain amylose, which is resistant to digestion by the stomach and small intestine but feeds the good bacteria in the colon. These friendly gut bugs chow down on amylose and produce butyrate, a short chain fatty acid. Butyrate is quite the magic molecule! It nourishes the cells lining the colon, promoting a strong intestinal barrier and keeping toxins out of the blood stream. Butyrate prevents unwanted inflammation and improves fat loss, insulin signalling and metabolism.

It also reduces the DNA mutations formed upon consumption of large quantities of red meat, acting as a potential anti-cancer agent. There’s a good reason to stick to what grandma fed us – meat, potatoes and veges.

We strongly encourage growers who are branding and marketing their produce to utilize these facts. Look at adding content to packaging, your website and social media, to hero your produce.

It really is time to get real about what great all-rounders spuds are. Their benefits are either ignored or taken for granted. Let’s turn the soil and reveal the goodies.

The facts in this article are drawn from a piece written by Kanchan Koya PhD.

Kanchan is a molecular biologist and integrative nutrition coach.

Her article can be read in full here