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All About Potatoes

Potato Food Safety

  • Yes, our potatoes are non-GMO (not genetically modified). We grow eco-friendly Russet, Red, White, Gold and Purple Healthy Grown Wisconsin potatoes in the Lower Wisconsin River Valley on our farms near Spring Green, Wis., and central sands region in Grand Marsh, Wis.

  • No. Even a small child could eat thousands of servings of U.S. potatoes without any adverse health effects resulting from the very small amount of pesticide residue that may be present.

    Any pesticides we apply are applied to the plant and/or in the ground. None are applied directly to the potato. A very small/limited amount is applied to the plant leaves to keep bugs away. These pesticides do not seep into the potato itself. Every day we work hard to bring you and your family highly nutritious product while being stewards or our land. Learn more at: https://wisconsinpotatoes.com/healthy-grown/

    Source: Potatoes USA

  • Absolutely!

    • Potatoes are one of the most widely consumed vegetables in the world. The responsible use of pesticides allows U.S. potato farmers to cultivate crops that meet global demand for volume and that meet consumer expectations of quality.
    • The use of pesticides is fully regulated at both the federal and state level — including the EPA, USDA and FDA — and both conventional and organic potato farmers meet or exceed the standards for responsible use of pesticides set by those agencies.
    • According to the Safe Fruits and Veggies calculation tool for consumers, even a small child could eat thousands of servings of U.S. potatoes without any adverse health effects resulting from the very small amount of pesticide residue that may be present.

    Source: Potatoes USA

Potato Greening

  • Potatoes take on a green color when overexposed to excessive light. Whether the light source is sunlight or fluorescent light, this causes the chemical solanine to accumulate in the skin of the potato turning it green. This can also cause the potato to have a bitter taste, so it is best to cut away affected portions. The best way to avoid green and keep the potatoes fresh is to store them in a cool, dark and dry place.

  • No. Green spots or patches on potatoes (known as “greening”) are a natural result of chlorophyll production in the tuber from being exposed to light. Chlorophyll is not toxic; however, its presence indicates an increase in the production of solanine. Solanine is a glycoalkaloid that can cause gastrointestinal symptoms (e.g., nausea, vomiting and diarrhea), but only if consumed in very large amounts.

    Source: Potatoes USA

    • Greening and glycoalkaloids are naturally occurring in potatoes: Exposure of potatoes to light either in the field, in storage, on grocery store shelves or at home can cause green pigmentation to form on the surface of the potato. This “greening” is due to the formation of chlorophyll, a pigment that is found in many plant foods including lettuce, spinach and broccoli. In and of itself, chlorophyll is not a health concern; it is harmless and tasteless. But, in potatoes, chlorophyll formation is associated with formation of glycoalkaloids, most notably solanine. Increased solanine levels will cause potatoes to taste bitter and at very high intakes can cause gastrointestinal symptoms (e.g., nausea and vomiting.)
    • Only light exposure causes chlorophyll formation but other things can cause an increase in glycoalkoloids in potatoes. Unlike chlorophyll, light is not needed for glycoalkaloid formation in potatoes, but is substantially promoted by it. Other factors that can increase glycoalkaloid levels in potatoes include:
      • Wounding (e.g., bruising, cutting, slicing) during harvesting or post harvesting.
      • Processing particularly if it removes water (e.g., making chips or fries) because it can concentrate the glycoalkoloids.
      • Storage under very hot or very cold conditions or excessive exposure to sunlight.
    • Potatoes as typically consumed contain little solanine. The highest levels of glycoalkoloids are typically found in the sprouts, flowers, leaves or other actively growing areas of the tuber which are not the parts of potatoes that people typically consume. Concentrations of glycoalkoloids are higher in immature potatoes and are diluted as the tuber grows and matures. It should also be noted that potato breeding programs have resulted in the commercial release of only potato lines with very low levels of solanine.
    • Acceptable limits: The FDA considers the maximum acceptable glycoalkaloid content to be 20-25 mg/100 g fresh potato weight (or 200-250 parts per million (ppm). One would have to consume significantly more than is ever found in a serving of potatoes to be toxic. For example, the mean toxicity response in humans for glycoalkaloids is 3 mg/kg body weight (range 1-5 mg/kg body weight). Assuming that a potato contained glycoalkaloids at the advisory level of 200 ppm, an 80 kg (176 lb.) person would have to consume an entire kilogram of the affected areas of a potato in a serving to trigger a toxic response. Also note that potatoes with this high a level of glycoalkaloids would have a bitter, burning taste that would be unpleasant to consumers.
    • Minimizing glycoalkaloid formation: Strategies can be employed at harvesting and post-harvesting to reduce glycoalkaloid formation in potatoes.
    • Harvesting:
      • Keep tubers well covered with soil during growing.
      • Allow tubers to mature before harvest. Avoid harvesting on warm sunny days.
      • Avoid handling methods that cause bruising or physical damage to potatoes.
    • Post Harvesting:
      • Store in cool, dark place.
      • If you see a spot of green on a potato, cut it out and eat the remainder.

    Source: Potatoes USA

Potato Storage

  • Potatoes should be stored in a cool, dark place and can be kept for about 2-3 weeks.

Potato Preparation & Nutrition

  • Potatoes are washed at least once before they are packed. It is generally a good idea to wash the potatoes at home to make sure any remaining dirt is removed. The skin on potatoes make them a good source of potassium! Eating the skin adds nutritional value to your potato but potatoes can be enjoyed without as well.

  • No. While the skin does contain approximately half of the total dietary fiber, the majority (> 50%) of the nutrients are found within the potato itself.

    • The only nutrient significantly lost when the skin is removed is fiber.
      • A medium (5.3 oz) potato contains 2 grams of fiber with the skin and 1 gram of fiber without the skin.
    • Potassium and vitamin C are found predominantly in the flesh of the potato.
      • A medium (5.3 oz) potato with the skin contains 620 mg of potassium and 27 mg of vitamin C.1 Removing the skin eliminates approximately 150 mg of potassium and 4.5 mg of vitamin C.

    Source: Potatoes USA

  • Potatoes can be baked at 425 degrees F for 50-60 minutes. Microwave a medium-sized potato on high for 5 to 6 minutes. Boil potatoes rapidly for 15-20 minutes until fork tender.

  • No. Vegetables of every color provide important nutrients to the diets of Americans.

  • According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), starchy vegetables such as potatoes can be included in the diet of a person with diabetes. The total amount of carbohydrate consumed at any given meal or snack is what is most important.

    ORIGIN

    The concern regarding potatoes and diabetes stems largely from the type of carbohydrate found in potatoes (starch). Starch is a complex carbohydrate that is not only found in potatoes but also in bread, pasta, peas and corn. Starch tends to be digested and absorbed rapidly which can lead to a sharp increase in blood glucose levels, an effect known as a high glycemic response. For people with Type 2 diabetes, a food eliciting a high glycemic response can be problematic because they do not efficiently and effectively clear glucose from the blood. Chronically high levels of blood glucose can cause great damage to body tissues and systems.

    It’s important to note that the type of carbohydrate is only one dietary factor that can affect blood glucose levels. The total amount of carbohydrate consumed at a given meal (referred to as the glycemic load) also impacts blood glucose levels and often to a much greater degree than the type of carbohydrate. Thus, people with Type 2 diabetes should focus on carbohydrate portion size when planning, creating and consuming meals.

    FACTS

    • A 5.3 oz potato with the skin contains 26 grams of total carbohydrate (including 2 grams of fiber).
    • The effect of potatoes on an individual’s blood glucose level (i.e., glycemic response) is highly variable and depends on a number of factors including:
      • Processing and preparation
      • Variety, origin, maturation
      • What they are consumed with (i.e. protein and fat)
    • Potatoes that have been cooked and cooled elicit a low glycemic response. Similarly, consuming warm potatoes with other foods, particularly those higher in fat and protein, will lower the glycemic response.
    • The ADA encourages both children and adults with diabetes to focus on carbohydrates from vegetables, legumes, fruits, dairy (milk and yogurt), and whole grains and reduce their intake of refined carbohydrates and added sugars.

     Source: Potatoes USA

  • Yes. Potatoes are a carbohydrate-rich vegetable.

    POTATO FACTS

    • A medium, 5.3 ounce potato with the skin contains 26 grams of carbohydrate.
    • The predominant carbohydrate in potatoes is starch, which is considered a complex carbohydrate.
    • Carbohydrate is the primary fuel for your brain and a key source of energy for muscles and is important for optimal physical and mental performance.
    • Because of their high carb content, potatoes are often categorized with grains like rice, pasta and bread, but they are officially vegetables, as classified by both the USDA’s MyPlate guidelines and the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which is jointly published by the USDA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
    • Along with such vegetables as corn and green peas, potatoes are among the vegetables known as “starchy” vegetables.
    • Far from “just carbs”; potatoes contain a number of key nutrients including protein and a variety of vitamins and minerals.
    • Potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C (45% of the DV), a good source of vitamin B6 (10% of the DV) and a good source of potassium (15% of the DV). They are also fat, cholesterol and sodium free and contribute 7% of the daily value for fiber.
    • Currently, consumption of all vegetables — including “starchy” vegetables — is about 80% below the intake levels recommended in the most recent (2015-2020) Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

    Source: Potatoes USA

  • No. Research demonstrates that people can eat potatoes and still lose weight. There is no evidence that potatoes, when prepared in a healthful manner, impede weight loss.

    In fact, a study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition demonstrates that people can eat potatoes and still lose weight.

    • The study, a collaborative effort between the University of California at Davis and the Illinois Institute of Technology, sought to gain a better understanding of the role of calorie reduction and the glycemic index (GI) in weight loss when potatoes are included in the diet. Ninety overweight men and women were randomly assigned to one of three groups: (1) reduced calorie/high GI, (2) reduced calorie/low GI, (3) control group with no calorie or GI restrictions. All three groups were provided potatoes along with healthful recipes and instructions to consume 5-7 servings of potatoes per week. All 90 participants were involved in light to moderate exercise. At the end of the 12-week study period, the researchers found that all three groups had lost weight and there was no significant difference in weight loss between the groups.
    • Although this is a single study and more research is needed, a recent systematic review and meta-analysis concluded that existing research does not provide convincing evidence to suggest an association between intake of potatoes and risks of obesity.
    • The Dietary Guidelines for Americans assert that managing calorie intake is fundamental to achieving and maintaining calorie balance – the balance between the calories taken in from foods and the calories expended from metabolic processes and physical activity. And calorie balance, not a particular food, is the key to weight management. Accordingly, to lose weight, most people need to reduce the number of calories they get from foods and beverages and increase their physical activity.

     Source: Potatoes USA

  • The GI of potatoes is highly variable and depends on a variety of factors including the potato type, origin, processing and preparation.

    CONTEXT

    The glycemic index (GI) was originally conceived as a tool for the dietary management of type 1 diabetes. Researchers sought to systematically test the impact of different carbohydrates on blood sugar levels, compared to glucose; the test became known as the glycemic index. Twenty years later, three GI categories were created: high, medium and low—and published in a popular book. Foods rich in starch (e.g., breads, pasta, rice and starchy vegetables like potatoes) were classified as “high” and high GI foods were hypothesized to negatively impact blood glucose levels as well as overall health.

    Shortly after that, researchers created a “healthy eating pyramid” which positioned potatoes at the very top as one of the most unhealthy foods largely due to their “high GI”. More than thirty years since its inception, the controversy over the clinical significance and practical application of the GI continues. Although hundreds of studies have been published on the glycemic index and numerous popular diet books advocate its use, the connection between glycemic index and long-term health has not been established.

    POTATO FACTS

    • The GI is a very complex, mathematical measure and is defined as the “incremental area under the blood glucose response curve of a 50 gram portion of available carbohydrate from a test food expressed as a percentage of the response to the same amount of available carbohydrate from the reference food (i.e., white bread or glucose).”
    • Research shows that the GI is not a reliable measure.
    • Despite claims that potatoes have a high GI, the fact is that the GI of potatoes is highly variable and depends on a number of factors including:
      • Processing and preparation
      • Variety, origin, maturation
      • What they are consumed with (i.e. protein and fat)
    • Both the 2010 and the 2015 Dietary Guidelines committees concluded there is no evidence indicating that GI aids in weight loss or weight loss maintenance or aids in the prevention or treatment of cardiovascular disease.

    Source: Potatoes USA

  • The USDA’s Dietary Guidelines recommend that Americans eat a variety of vegetables from all vegetable subgroups, including dark green, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas) and starchy (including potatoes).

    White vegetables provide key nutrients lacking in the diets of many Americans, and can help increase overall vegetable consumption.
    Color does not necessarily predict the nutritional value of a vegetable. White vegetables, including nutrient-dense potatoes, contribute important amounts of essential shortfall nutrients to the American diet across all age groups. This includes potassium—a nutrient essential to healthy blood pressure, of which only 2-3% of American adults consume the recommended daily amount.

    A study examining the contribution of white vegetables to nutrient intakes found that white potatoes were positively associated with higher dietary fiber intakes among both children and adults. Specifically, the results indicated that more than 20% of dietary fiber intake was provided by white potatoes for 6 out of 8 age groups for male potato consumers, and >16% of dietary fiber intake was provided by white potatoes for 6 out of 8 age groups for female potato consumers.

    A medium-sized (5.3 ounce) potato with skin-on provides 26 grams of carbohydrates, 620 mg of potassium, 27 mg of vitamin C, 2 grams of fiber, 3 grams of protein, and is fat, sodium and cholesterol-free.

    Source: Potatoes USA