Though potatoes are a natural cholesterol free, vitamin and mineral rich food, the Department of Health does not include it as part of their ‘five-a-day’ criteria because they consider it to be a starchy food which is usually eaten in place of other starch laden carbohydrates, such as pasta, rice and bread.
Because potatoes have a different role to vegetables, that is why the Department of Health do not count it towards the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
So are potatoes good for us or not?
Registered dietician Jacqueline Lowdon believes they are.
‘A medium-sized 5oz potato of any variety, with the skin on, provides 27mg of Vitamin C, 45 per cent of our recommended daily amount [RDA], which is more Vitamin C than there is in 100g of grapes or tomatoes.
‘It also contains 0.2mg of Vitamin B6 [ten per cent of our RDA], which is essential for our nervous system, and trace amounts of B1 [thiamine], B2 [riboflavin], folate, niacin, magnesium, phosphorous and zinc which are all beneficial to our general health.
‘If the skin is left on, it contains 2g of fibre [we need between 12g and 24g a day, depending on our size] -the equivalent to many wholegrain breads, cereals and pasta varieties.
‘It also contains phytochemicals, carotenoids and natural phenols, which are beneficial for the immune system and for fighting cellular damage in our bodies.’ She said
However, Jaqueline also points out that the main message of ‘five-a-day’ is that we should be trying to increase our vitamin, fibre and antioxidant intake, and though potatoes are nutritious they are not as rich in antioxidants and vitamins as other fruit and veg.
Jacqueline recommends that individuals eat potatoes on top of their ‘five-a-day’ recommendation and not as part of it.