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Your Guide to Potato Nutrition

Potato Nutrition Info

Potato Nutrition Guide
Table of Contents

(easily jump to the content you want by clicking on a nutrition topic)

1. Potato Nutrition Highlights

2. Potato Nutrition Facts

3. Nutrition White Potato vs Sweet Potato

4. Potato Nutrition FAQs

5. Gluten-Free Goodness

6. Tips & Tricks for Substituting Potatoes for Gluten Products

POTATOES 101 - POTATO NUTRITION HIGHLIGHTS

An excellent source of vitamin C

A medium 5.3 oz skin on potato has 27 mg of vitamin C per serving, which is 30% of the daily value. Potatoes are considered to be an excellent source of this antioxidant. Vitamin C aids in collagen production—a major component of muscle tissue— and supports iron absorption.

A good source of potassium (more than a banana!)

A medium 5.3 oz skin on potato has 620 mg of potassium per serving, which is 15% of the daily value and more than a medium-sized banana (422 mg per serving). Potassium is an electrolyte essential for muscle functioning. Potassium is lost in sweat, so it needs to be replenished for optimal performance.

A good source of vitamin B6

A medium 5.3 oz skin on potato has 0.2 mg of vitamin B6 per serving, which is 10% of the daily value and considered to be a good source. Vitamin B6 plays important roles in carbohydrate and protein metabolism.

Potatoes are nutrient-dense complex carbohydrates

A medium 5.3 oz potato with skin-on provides 26 grams of carbohydrates, or 9% of the daily value per serving.

Potatoes are fat-, sodium- and cholesterol-free
Potatoes are only 110 calories per serving

NUTRITION FACTS

If you’re looking to power up your performance, look no further than the potato. Did you know that potatoes provide the carbohydrate, potassium and energy you need to perform at your best? Potatoes are more energy-packed than any other popular vegetable and have even more potassium than a banana. Plus, there’s a potato performance recipe options to fuel your body and brain throughout the day- whether you lead an active lifestyle or are competing with elite athletes.

Potato Nutrition Data

VITAMIN C

A medium 5.3 oz skin on potato contains 27 mg of Vitamin C, which is 30% of the daily value. Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin that is essential for humans. Vitamin C is found naturally only in fruits and vegetables.1 Potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C and contribute significantly to the daily vitamin C requirements for Americans.2,3

 

KEY FACTS ABOUT VITAMIN C

 

FUNCTIONS OF VITAMIN C

Vitamin C is required for the synthesis of collagen, a structural protein that gives strength and elasticity to a variety of body tissues (e.g., skin, gums, tendons, ligaments and bone) and plays a vital role in wound healing. Vitamin C also functions as an antioxidant in the body, stabilizing or eliminating free radicals, thus helping to prevent cellular damage. Finally, vitamin C assists with the absorption of iron and is concentrated in a number of immune cells thereby helping to support the body’s immune system.1

 

VITAMIN C RECOMMENDATIONS

The current RDAs for vitamin C are based on its known physiological and antioxidant functions in white blood cells and, thus, have been set higher than the amounts needed to prevent the deficiency disease (scurvy).1 For men ages 19 years and older, the RDA is 90 mg per day and for women ages 19 years and older the RDA is 75 mg per day.

 

REFERENCES

  1. Institute of Medicine (US) Panel on Dietary Antioxidants and Related Compounds. Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium, and Carotenoids. 2000. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US).
    2. Cotton PA, Subar AF, Friday JE, Cook A. Dietary sources of nutrients among US adults, 1994-1996. J Am Diet Assoc. 2004;104:921-930.
    3. O’Neil CE, Keast DR, Fulgoni VL, Nicklas TA. Food sources of energy and nutrients among adults in the US: NHANES 2003–2006. Nutrients. 2012 Dec 19;4(12):2097-120.
    4. USDA standard reference 28, based on Reference Amounts Customarily Consumed (RACC)

 

POTASSIUM

A medium 5.3 oz skin on potato contains 620 mg of Potassium, which is 15% of the daily value. Potassium is a major mineral that plays a number of important roles in the body. Most notably, it is a key electrolyte that helps maintain the delicate balance of fluid inside and outside the cell.1 It is estimated that less than 3% of Americans are meeting the current adequate intake (AI) for potassium as specified by the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

 

KEY FACTS ABOUT POTASSIUM

 

FUNCTIONS OF POTASSIUM AND RELEVANT RESEARCH

Research suggests diets rich in potassium and low in sodium reduce the risk of hypertension and stroke.In a scientific statement promoting dietary approaches to prevent and treat hypertension, the American Heart Association (AHA) reported that evidence from animal experiments, observational studies and more than 30 human clinical trials show a significant association between high potassium intakes and reduced blood pressure.6

Given their high potassium content, potatoes may contribute to a heart healthy diet. In fact, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans encourages people to increase potassium by focusing on food choices with the most potassium such as white potatoes, beet greens, white beans, plain yogurt, and sweet potatoes.5

 

POTASSIUM RECOMMENDATIONS

Current recommendations for potassium intake are expressed as an “adequate intake,” or AI. For males 19-50 years of age, the AI for potassium is 3400 mg per day whereas for females 19-50 years of age it is 2600 mg per day.7

 

REFERENCES

  1. Institute of Medicine. 2004. Dietary Reference Intakes: Water, Potassium, Sodium, Chloride, and Sulfate. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Potassium-HealthProfessional/
    2. Drewnowski A, Rhem CD. Vegetable cost metrics show that potatoes and beans provide most nutrients per penny. PLoS One, 2013;15;8(5).
    3. USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Available at:  https://health.gov/our-work/food-nutrition/2015-2020-dietary-guidelines/guidelines/chapter-2/a-closer-look-at-current-intakes-and-recommended-shifts/
    4. Potassium: Food Sources Ranked by Amounts of Potassium and Energy per Standard Food Portions and per 100 Grams of Foods. Available at:  https://health.gov/our-work/food-nutrition/2015-2020-dietary-guidelines/guidelines/appendix-10/
    5. Aaron KJ, Sanders PW. Role of dietary salt and potassium intake in cardiovascular health and disease: a review of the evidence. Mayo Clin Proc. 2013;88:987-995.
    6. Appel LJ, Brands MW, Daniels SR, Karanja N, Elmer PJ, Sacks FM. Dietary approaches to prevent and treat hypertension. A scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Hypertension. 2006;47: 296–308.
    7. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Dietary Reference Intakes for Sodium and Potassium. Washington, DC; The National Academies Press; 2019.

 

CARBOHYDRATE

A medium 5.3 oz skin-on potato contains 26 grams of carbohydrates. Carbohydrate-rich foods like potatoes have been getting a bad rap lately. Many of today’s most popular fad diets recommend restricting all or specific carbohydrate-rich foods. This is unfortunate because carbohydrates have many important functions and eliminating them from the diet is neither necessary nor healthy.

 

KEY FACTS ABOUT CARBOHYDRATES

 

FUNCTIONS OF CARBOHYDRATES

The primary function of carbohydrates is to provide energy to the cells of the body, particularly the brain. While most body tissues and organs prefer carbohydrate as their primary fuel source, some, like the brain, red and white blood cells, and certain parts of the kidney require it. 1 Carbohydrates are also an important fuel for the muscles during exercise, particularly intense and/or prolonged exercise, and as such are key to optimal athletic performance.

In fact, carbohydrates are so crucial to the body that if you don’t consume adequate amounts in your diet, your body will have to make them—a process known as “gluconeogenesis” (literally translated “to make new glucose”). The most common gluconeogenic substrates are amino acids derived from both dietary sources of protein and body proteins such as muscle and vital organs. Thus, while the body can survive without carbohydrates; it does so at the expense of the body’s protein pool and consequently does not function optimally.

 

CARBOHYDRATE CLASSIFICATION

Carbohydrates can be broadly classified as simple or complex, based on their chemical structure.

Simple carbohydrates, as their name implies, have a simple chemical structure consisting of one or two sugar molecules. Examples include the monosaccharides (single sugars)—glucose, fructose, galactose—and the disaccharides (two sugars)—sucrose, lactose, and maltose. Most fruits and dairy products contain an abundance of simple sugars. Soft drinks, ice cream, sweets and pastries also contain significant amounts of simple sugars. 3

Complex carbohydrates, including starch, glycogen, fiber and resistant starch, have a more complex chemical structure, containing two or more sugar molecules linked together. 3 Glycogen is the body’s storage form of glucose, while starch is a plant’s storage form of glucose. Foods rich in starch include grains, cereals and most vegetables, particularly beans, peas, corn and potatoes. 3

 

CARBOHYDRATE RECOMMENDATIONS

The current RDA for carbohydrates is 130 grams per day based on the amount needed to optimally support the central nervous system (i.e., the brain). 1 If you engage in physical activity, you need more carbohydrate. How much more depends on the intensity and duration of your exercise. 4 The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine (the government body that sets the RDA) has recommended an acceptable macronutrient distribution range (AMDR) for carbohydrates of 45-65% of total daily energy intake. 1

Some people hold the misconception that they need to cut out carbohydrates to manage body weight. But scientific consensus asserts that excess calories are to blame for weight gain, not diet composition. 5 Instead of restricting carbohydrates from your diet, practice common sense when selecting carbohydrate-rich foods—choose nutrient dense whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

 

REFERENCES

  1. Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy,Carbohydrate, Fiber, fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein and Amino Acids. Washington, DC. The National Academies Press. 2002; pp 265.
  2. Burke LM, Hawley JA, Wong SH, Jeukendrup AE. Carbohydrates for training and competition. J Sports Sci. 2011; 29(Suppl 1): S17-27
  3. Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein and Amino Acids. Washington, DC. The National Academies Press. 2002; pp 275-276.
  4. Raatz SK, et al. Resistant starch analysis of commonly consumed potatoes: Content varies by cooking method and service temperature but not by variety. Food Chem. 2016 Oct 1;208:297-300.
  5. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2015 – 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th Edition. December 2015. Available at http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/.

 

PROTEIN

A medium 5.3 oz skin on potato has 3 grams of protein. Protein is an important component of almost every cell and tissue in the body. Protein is made up of amino acids. There are 20 amino acids with biological significance; however, only nine are essential, meaning that our bodies cannot synthesize them and they must be obtained through food.

 

KEY FACTS ABOUT PROTEIN

 

FUNCTIONS OF PROTEIN

Proteins play many important roles in the body including:

 

PROTEIN RECOMMENDATIONS

The current recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for protein is .8 grams per kilogram of body weight and the acceptable macronutrient distribution range (AMDR) is 10%-35% of total daily energy intake from protein. One 5.3-ounce skin-on potato is a source of 3 grams of plant-based protein. Current dietary guidance, including the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, recommends substituting plant-based proteins for some animal-based proteins to improve overall health and support the environment.

 

REFERENCES

 

  1. Woolfe JA. The Potato in the Human Diet. 1987. Cambridge University Press.
    2. McGill CR, Kurilich AC, Davignon J. The role of potatoes and potato components in cardiometabolic health: A review. Ann Med. 2013;45(7):467-73.
    3. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2015 – 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th Edition. December 2015. Available at https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/.
    4. Gropper S,S Smith JL, Carr TP. Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism. 7th ed. 2018. Boston, MA. Cegage Learning.

 

FIBER

A medium 5.3 oz skin on potato has 2g of dietary fiber. Dietary fiber is a type of complex carbohydrate found in vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Most Americans get only about half of the recommended amount of dietary fiber and, thus, could benefit from consuming more fiber-rich foods.

 

KEY FACTS ABOUT FIBER

 

FUNCTIONS OF FIBER

Dietary fiber has been shown to have numerous health benefits, including improving blood lipid levels, regulating blood glucose, and increasing satiety, (makes you feel full longer), which may help with weight loss.1

 

FIBER RECOMMENDATIONS

The current recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for fiber is 25 g per day for women 19-50 years of age (28 g per day if pregnant or lactating) and 38 g per day for men 19-50 years of age.5

 

REFERENCES

  1. Dahl WJ, Steward ML. Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Health Implications of Dietary Fiber. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2015;115:1861-70.
    2. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee 2015 Scientific Report. https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015-scientific-report/Accessed December 27, 2018.
    3. Woolfe JA. The Potato in the Human Diet. New York: Cambridge University Press. 1987.
    4. Drewnowski A, Rehm CD. Vegetable cost metrics show that potatoes and beans provide most nutrients per penny. PLoS One. 2013;15;8(5).
    5. Institute of Medicine. 2005. Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/10490.
    6. Storey ML, Anderson PA. Contributions of white vegetables to nutrient intake: NHANES 2009-2010. Adv Nutr. 2013: 4: 335S–344S.
    7. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/interactivenutritionfactslabel/

 

VITAMIN B6

A medium 5.3 oz skin on potato is good source of Vitamin B6 providing 10% of the recommended daily value. Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin that plays important roles in carbohydrate and protein metabolism. It helps the body make nonessential amino acids needed to make various body proteins.

 

IRON

A medium 5.3 oz skin on potato provides 6% of the recommended daily value of iron, Iron is a mineral involved in making proteins that carry oxygen to all parts of the body, including to the muscles.

Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes are more similar than you think….

White Potatoes vs Sweet Potatoes Nutrient Comparison

POTATOES IN THE NEWS

Potatoes for boosting athletic performance? Research says “Yes.” Link to study

 

POTATO NUTRITION RESEARCH

In 2004, Potatoes USA (formerly the U.S. Potato Board) began a formal Nutrition Research Program with the goal of creating a body of scientific evidence highlighting the nutritional benefits of potatoes and dispelling the myths and misconceptions surrounding potatoes. Today, we continue to provide external funding for research under the Alliance for Potato Research and Education.* Potatoes USA positions itself at the forefront of potato nutrition research, monitoring research and trends in the U.S. and overseas that could impact potato consumption in America.  You can find a collection of research abstracts that highlight the nutritional value of potatoes as a part of a healthy diet here

*This site is a third-party site not maintained by Potatoes USA.

NUTRITION FAQ

Are potatoes good for you?

Yes, potatoes are naturally fat free, cholesterol free, and low in sodium. In addition, potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C, and those eaten with the skin are a good source of potassium. Foods that are good sources of potassium and low in sodium, such as potatoes, may reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke.

Are all varieties of potatoes equally nutritious?

All varieties of potatoes are nutritious and, while both the type and amounts of nutrients may vary slightly depending on the variety, the differences are minimal. So minimal in fact, the FDA nutrition label for potatoes represents a composite of varietals (“market-basket approach”) based on typical US consumption patterns (i.e., 70% Russet, 18% white and 12% reds). Based on the FDA label the following claims can be made for the potato:

  • An excellent source (> 20% of the DV) of vitamin C and potassium with skin
  • A source (> 8% of the DV) of fiber with skin
  • A good source (> 10% of the DV) of vitamin B6
  • Low in sodium (< 140 mg/serving) and cholesterol
  • Fat free (< .5 g fat/serving)
Are there differences in nutrient content between different forms of potatoes (i.e. fresh vs. frozen vs. dehydrated)?

Processed potatoes (such as dehydrated and frozen potatoes) deliver the same nutrients as fresh potatoes, (such as potassium, vitamin C and fiber), but the amounts will vary depending on the form of potato. Click here to find out more about nutrient content in potato forms.

Are potatoes fattening?

No. A 5.3-ounce skin on potato has only 110 calories and no fat. Experts agree weight gain occurs when an individual consumes more calories than he or she expends.

Are potatoes high in carbs?

Yes. Potatoes are a carbohydrate-rich vegetable. A medium, 5.3 ounce potato with the skin contains 26 grams of carbohydrate. Click here to learn more about potatoes and carbohydrate.

If I am trying to lose weight, do I need to avoid potatoes?

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. Click here to learn more about potatoes and weight loss.

How do sweet potatoes and white potatoes compare when it come to their nutrition?

Both sweet and white potatoes provide similar amounts of key nutrients including protein (2g and 3g respectively), potassium and vitamin B6, all of which contribute to a well-balanced, nutrient-dense diet. Click here to see the nutrition comparison of White Potatoes vs. Sweet Potatoes.

Note: “White” potatoes refer to the seven common potato types: russet, yellow, white, red, purple/blue, fingerling and petite. Click here to learn more about White Potatoes vs. Sweet Potatoes.

Are French fries and potato chips healthy?

Staple foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains should be eaten every day, while fried foods and high fat snacks should be viewed as occasional treats. One food, even one meal, does not make or break a healthful diet. Understanding the impact that fried foods, like fries and chips, or high-fat foods like ice cream and cookies, have on your overall eating pattern makes it possible for you to “make room” for them as occasional indulgences.

Do potatoes have a high glycemic index (GI)?

The GI of potatoes is highly variable and depends on a variety of factors including the potato type, origin, processing and preparation. Click here to learn more about potatoes and the glycemic index.

Should people with diabetes avoid foods like potatoes? What about people trying to lose weight?

After an extensive review of the scientific research regarding carbohydrate intake and diabetes, the American Diabetes Association concluded that, for people with diabetes, the total amount of carbohydrate in meals and snacks, rather than the type, is more important in determining the blood sugar (Glycemic) response. Similarly, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Agriculture (USDA) concluded that, when it comes to weight management, it is calories that count, not the proportion of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.

Are all the nutrients in the skin of the potato?

No. The notion that all of the nutrients are found in the skin is a myth.  While the skin does contain approximately half of the total dietary fiber, the majority (> 50%) of the nutrients are found within the potato itself. For more information, please click here.

NutrientRusset (Baked w/skin)Potato Skin (raw)
Calories11022
Total carbohydrate (g)265
Fiber (g)21
Fat (g)00
Protein (g)31
Vitamin C (mg)274
Potassium (mg)620157

 

Gluten-Free Goodness

Potatoes are naturally gluten-free and they’re packed with nutritional benefits needed for a healthy lifestyle. Potatoes are one of the world’s most versatile vegetables. Foundational in a wide range of international and all-American cuisine, potatoes are the perfect blank canvas for a variety of flavors. This is welcome news when your good health depends on eating a gluten-free diet.

An ideal substitution for some of your favorite bread, grain and pasta-based dishes, potatoes add a boost of nutritional benefits. Important to a healthy diet, one medium-sized (5.3oz) skin-on potato has:

TIPS AND TRICKS FOR SUBSTITUTING POTATOES FOR GLUTEN PRODUCTS

Pizza

Potatoes make a surprising and tasty substitution for pizza crust and bread. Top grilled or roasted potato planks with your favorite pizza topping.

Nachos

Potatoes as a base for nachos instead of tortilla chips make a great substitute whether you’re choosing to eat gluten-free or not. You can also save time by using frozen potato wedges. It’s a convenient and delicious alternative.

Croutons

Dice a potato into 1/2 inch squares, toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil and your favorite seasonings. Place on a cookie sheet and bake at 450 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Let cool and toss in your salad. No time to dice? Try frozen potatoes instead.

Gravies, soups and stews

The starch in potatoes is a natural thickening agent. Try using instant mashed potatoes or even pureed leftover mashed potatoes for hearty gravies, soups and stews (mix in the potatoes a little at a time so as not to over-thicken).

Bruschetta

Instead of the traditional crostini or sliced sourdough bread, slice potatoes 1/4-inch thick, toss in olive oil and bake at 425 degrees for 25 minutes. When the slices are finished cooking, top with your favorite tomato bruschetta and enjoy!

Pasta

Try using naturally gluten-free potatoes instead of pasta. Thin “noodles” of potatoes can be used to recreate your favorite pasta dish or thin slices of potatoes can be used to in place of noodles in your family-favorite lasagna recipe.

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