I had a discussion today about baked potatoes. I’ve always had them and love eating them. But my friend had the following to say:
'I never eat them because they are fattening and bad for you.'
One medium-sized plain baked potato (about three inches in diameter) has about 150 calories. That same potato has about five grams of fiber, which is important for a healthy digestive tract. They’re also a healthy source of vitamins and minerals. A small baked potato, about two inches in diameter has about 130 calories. A large baked potato has about three and one-half to four inches in diameter can have about 275 calories.
Baked potatoes contain more potassium than any other fresh vegetable in the produce department – even more than bananas. One potato has almost 900 milligrams, which is about 20 percent of what you need every day. Potassium is important for body growth and cell maintenance. It’s also necessary for nervous function and for normal muscle contraction – including the heart muscle.
Potassium is also an electrolyte that helps to balance the fluids in your body, which is important for healthy blood pressure.
Baked potatoes also contain substantial amounts of vitamins C and B6, which are vital for blood clotting, wound healing, a strong immune system, normal nervous system function and for converting the food you eat to energy. There’s also a substance called kukoamine found in potatoes that may help to lower blood pressure, although more research is necessary to know for sure.
Potatoes are nutritious and can be part of a healthy diet, but you still need to get adequate amounts of fats and proteins while staying within your personal calorie budget.
Toppings such as butter, sour cream and cheese will add considerably more calories.
This is probably where people get the impression that baked potatoes are bad for you, because most people don’t eat them plain. Sure, if you load them up with butter, sour cream and cheeses, well of course they can be bad. You load up anything with high fat toppings like butter, sour cream and cheeses and it can be bad for you.
The trick here is to minimize and/or use low-fat versions of the toppings. I personally love to eat them with just A-1 Steak Sauce, which is of course low-calorie.