The World's Healthiest Foods

Are colored potatoes healthier than white potatoes?

The differences in color between varieties of potatoes are basically differences in carotenoid and flavonoid content. Virtually all types of potatoes provide significant amounts of approximately 7-10 nutrients. While Americans are used to potatoes with a white inside, potatoes in other parts of the world more commonly have starchy yellow insides. We call these potatoes with yellow insides "specialty potatoes" however worldwide they are the norm rather than the exception.

All colorful potatoes provide carotenoids (and some provide flavonoids as well) that white potatoes do not. Carotenoids and flavonoids are pigments, and according to nutritional research, they provide us with many health benefits, including cancer protection. For example, the darker the starchy yellow inside of a yellow potato the greater quantities of carotenoid, including beta-carotene, and in some cases, lutein that are present. The blue in blue potatoes comes from their flavonoid content. Both the flavonoids found in blue potatoes and the carotinoids found in yellow potatoes help promote good health!

Some potatoes currently available in different regions of the U.S. that are rich in carotinoids and flavonoids include: Yukon Gold (currently the best-selling yellow potato in the U.S. marketplace), Michigold, Donna, All Blue (also called "Purple Marker"), Purple Viking, Saginaw Gold, Red Gold, Rose Gold, and Ruby Crescent.

The presence of carotinoids and flavonoids, however, does not affect the carbohydrate content of potatoes. Yams, sweet potatoes, and traditional Russet baking potatoes all contain about 1 gram of carbohydrate for every 4.2 calories - they're basically all-carbohydrate when it comes to calorie content.

Technically, you'll get more fiber and minerals per bite from smaller potatoes of any kind, since they have surface area (skin) per amount of starchy inside (total volume). But the difference here isn't major. The 3-7 grams of fiber contained in a medium-sized potato is mostly in the skin, so you wouldn't want to leave that part out. Of course, unless you potato is an organically-grown one, you'll be getting most of the pesticide residue here as well. Although there are some differences among potatoes, for those who are seriously looking to lower carbohydrate intake will need to switch to a different category of vegetable, like beans, or lentils, or the leafy green vegetables.

This page was updated on: 2004-11-18 21:46:56
© 2002 The George Mateljan Foundation