There is more to potatoes than meets the eye and it is about time to thoroughly ponder the powerful position and potential that this underestimated food source has, especially seeing as 2021 has been declared by the United Nations as the Year of Fruits and Vegetables.
Coinciding with #WhenHopeWhispers, a campaign launched by Potatoes South Africa (PSA) to give a voice to stakeholders who weathered the storm of COVID-19, dietician Claire Julsing Strydom believes now is an opportune time to be as vocal as possible about potatoes.
“Take potassium,” she says, “there is more potassium in a potato than there is in a banana.”
The Heart & Stroke Foundation South Africa endorsed potatoes as heart-healthy when consumed as a carbohydrate, with it’s skin on, baked, boiled, or grilled in quality ingredients. The potato’s contribution to the country’s progressive push to combat cardiovascular disease through salt-limiting legislation also deserves better understanding.
Strydom explains: “Where potassium plays a role, is that it stunts the impact of sodium on blood pressure, blunting its effect.”
Interestingly, and certainly counting in favour of local potato consumption, is the potassium levels in South African potatoes which exceeds imported counterparts.
According to Strydom a 180–200-gram potato serving contains about 750 milligrams of potassium.
Furthermore, potatoes contain minerals like zinc and phosphate, vitamins C, B, and if left with its skin on the fibre content is high. Nutritionists generally agree that “jacket potatoes” puts up a good fight against fat – when prepared in a healthy manner and dressed in quality herbs and spices.
If anything is to be peeled away, Strydom emphasises, it is the layers of misperceptions pertaining to the health qualities of potatoes.
Lesser known than the potassium punch it packs, for example, are the phytonutrients stored in a single potato.
Digging a little deeper into a potato’s composition, or the “food matrix” as it is called in scientific circles, brings one closer to the complex nutritional character of this vegetable.
Strydom calls this the “rainbow perspective of potatoes”.
To contextualise her view, she mentions that deep purple blueberries and red tomatoes contain phytonutrients like resveratrol and lycopenes.
“In comparison, potatoes contain more than 2,000 phytonutrients. Finalex, flavonoids, folates, cucuomines, anthocyanins and carotenoids are but some of the key phytonutrients you will find in potatoes.
“It is only when you look at the totality of a potato – the colour, cultivar, type and the soil in which it was grown – that one gets a clear picture of a potato’s food matrix.”
Another little-known fact about potatoes, Strydom says, is that they also contain proteins called patatins which, at about 4.5 gram in a medium potato, works well to suppress hunger.
Eating potatoes ultimately comes down to preparation and portions.
According to Strydom, “the best way to prepare potatoes is to boil them with their skin on, especially baby potatoes, three of which is equivalent to a slice of bread. These days we also know that when we cool a carbohydrate and re-heat it, it has an impact on its glycaemic composition, lowering its glycaemic effect.”
Having wide-spread public access to such information, she argues, would be possible if the different variants of potatoes were creatively marketed and displayed in stores, a view shared by PSA CEO Willie Jacobs.
Says Strydom: “If we can have cheese tasting, why can’t we have the same for potatoes? We have seen it work for certain fruits, helping consumers differentiate between Golden Delicious and Granny Smith apples. Surely we can do the same for potatoes.”
Jacobs said the same recently when he appealed for stepped-up engagement between product and consumers.
Win a Potato Hamper (Worth R1,500)!
Potato Nation and JoziStyle are giving away a pocket of potatoes – and you know you want them!
The prize includes:
2kg PnP Potatoes
Spice bottles with branding (garlic and herb and mixed herb or veggie spice)
Wooden Crate to hold all the gifts.
To win, simply share this post on Facebook or Twitter with your favourite potato recipe and the hashtags #DineJoziStyle #PotatoNation.
(or comment below telling us why you want to win.)
Entries close on Sunday, 27 June 2021 at 2PM.
The winner will be selected by an online random generator.
Winners will be announced by Monday, 28 April 2021 by 5PM.
The prize is not transferable for cash.
The winners will be announced on JoziStyle.joburg and informed by email.
Potato Nation reserves the right to cancel/withdraw the competition at any time.