Can you live off of potatoes?

In this article, we will answer the question “Can you live off of potatoes?”, and how to cook potatoes?

Can you live off potatoes?

No, you cannot live off of any single food, let alone potatoes. Although white potatoes contain all the essential amino acids needed to build proteins, repair cells, and fight diseases, they lack minerals and vitamins you need to function properly. 

This is where sweet potatoes come into play because they provide you with a good amount of minerals and vitamins such as Vitamin C, E, and A so that you do not run into scurvy, or night blindness.

The impact of potato consumption on human health remains somewhat controversial. Animal studies and limited human clinical trials indicate that potatoes and potato components may positively impact cardiometabolic health and some research suggests that they promote satiety. Conversely there is some limited evidence from observational studies linking potato consumption to an increased risk of weight gain and type 2 diabetes purportedly due to their high glycemic index (2).

Protein quality is often expressed intermsofits“biological value” which takes into account the amino acid profile of the protein along with its bioavailability. Egg protein has a biological value of 100 and is considered the reference protein. Potatoes have a relatively high biological value of 90, which is considered high compared to other plant protein sources (2).

Potatoes contain high amounts of protease inhibitors, which were considered as antinutritional compounds. However, it was found that they exert anticancer and anti-obesity activities. Protein inhibitors have been reported to show anti-cancer activity by preventing tumor cell proliferation and H2O2 formation and by protecting from the effects of solar UV irradiation. They act as satiety agents by enhancing the release of cholecystokinin (3).

On the other side, studies show contradictions regarding potatoes and obesity. In a study, potatoes consumed along with butter and whole milk were reported to be associated with increased risk of T2D. Fried potatoes were found to be associated with increased risk of T2D in both men and women. In contrast, potato intake was found to be associated with a lower risk of T2D in the Shanghai Women’s Health Study, where rice was found to increase the risk (3). In addition to this, people who rely solely on spuds for nutrition are more likely to become obese or diabetic. This is because potatoes are rich in sugars that trigger a sugar spike in your blood. The bottom line is that you need to include every food group in your diet to avoid disease and live a healthy life.

In China the annual potato production rose from an average of 13 million tons in 1961–1963 to 88 million tons in 2011–2013. During the same periods the potato production in India rose from about 3 to 43 million tons while the combined production of Germany and Poland dropped from about 29 % of the world’s total production to about 5 % whereas the combined production of China and India rose from about 6 % of the world’s total to about 35 % (1).

2 delicious ways to cook potatoes 

Recipe 1: Baked Sweet Potatoes 

Ingredients 

  • 1 sweet potato

Asian-inspired topping (optional):

  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon orange or tangerine juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon thinly sliced scallion 

Other simple topping ideas (optional):

  • 1 teaspoon butter, olive oil, or coconut oil
  • For a sweet topping: A pinch of cinnamon and/or nutmeg
  • For a savory topping: Black pepper and a pinch of sea salt

Instructions 

  1. Preheat the oven to 375℉.
  2. Wash, scrub and dry the sweet potatoes. Prick the sweet potatoes with several holes using a fork or a skewer. Wrap the sweet potato in foil for a soft inside and moist outer skin. Skip the foil for a crispy outer skin. Make sure to line the bottom of the baking tray and the oven with foil to catch the sweet potato drippings during baking.
  3. Bake the sweet potatoes for 45-75 minutes or until caramelized and sweet. The baking time depends on how you want your sweet potatoes to be. Longer baking times will yield sweet and caramel flavors. 
  4. Check for the doneness of the foil-wrapped sweet potatoes by piercing them through the foil using a knife or fork. Alternatively, you can squeeze the foil-wrapped potato with an oven mitt to check if the potatoes are soft or not.
  5. Once the baking time is up, let the sweet potato rest for several minutes before unwrapping it. This will prevent the juices from leaking when you unwrap your sweet potato.
  6. After unwrapping, cut the sweet baked potato in half and stuff it with your favorite filling. For example, you can whip up a quick filing by mixing a teaspoon of sesame oil with a tablespoon of orange or tangerine juice and some freshly grated ginger.
  7. Serve your baked sweet potato alongside a green salad or sautéed greens and a lean protein to round up your meal.

Nutrition information (for one sweet potato with other simple toppings)

Calories 146 kcal 
Total fat 4 g
Saturated fat 2.5 g 
Cholesterol 10 mg 
Sodium 73 mg 
Total carbohydrate 26 g 
Dietary fiber 4 g 
Total sugars 5.5 g 
Protein 2 g 
Potassium 439 mg 

For one sweet potato with Asian-inspired toppings

Calories 272 kcal 
Total fat 14 g 
Saturated fat 2 g 
Cholesterol 0 mg 
Sodium 72 mg 
Total carbohydrate 33 g 
Dietary fiber 4 g 
Sugars 11 g (5.5 g added sugars) 
Protein 2.6 g 
Potassium 560 mg 

Recipe 2: Herbed new potatoes 

Ingredients 

  • 1 lb small potatoes (red, white or a combination), halved
  • 2 tbsp fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
  • 6 chives, chopped
  • 4 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground black pepper

Instructions 

  1. Add some water in a pot, enough to fill it 1-inch from the bottom. Fit a steamer basket inside the pot. Place the potatoes on the steamer basket and heat the pot so that the water comes to a rolling boil.
  2. Then reduce the heat and let the potatoes simmer on medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes or until soft.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, toss the freshly boiled potatoes in a mixture of parsley, chives, oil, salt, and pepper.
  4. Serve hot and enjoy.

Nutrition Information 

Serving size 4 oz. potatoes 
Calories 140 kcal 
Carbohydrate 20 g 
Cholesterol 0 mg 
Fat 4.5 g 
Fiber 2 g
Protein 3 g 
Saturated fat 0.5 g 
Sodium 130 mg 
Sugar 0 g 
Monounsaturated 0 g 
Polyunsaturated  0 g

Other FAQs about Potatoes that you may be interested in.

How much does a large potato weigh?

What is the difference between potato wedges and steak fries?

Can you eat half-cooked potatoes?

How to preserve Vitamin C in potatoes

Conclusion 

In this article, we answered the question “Can you live off of potatoes?”, and how to cook potatoes?

References 

  1. De Jong, H. Impact of the Potato on Society. Am. J. Potato Res. 2016, 93, 415–429. 
  2. Beals, K.A. Potatoes, Nutrition and Health. Am. J. Potato Res. 2019, 96, 102–110. 
  3. Visvanathan, Rizliya, et al. Health‐beneficial properties of potato and compounds of interest. J Sci Food Agri, 2016, 96, 4850-4860.