Many popular fad diets focus on reducing your carbohydrate intake. These diets fail to inform consumers that foods containing carbohydrates, including whole grains, fruits and vegetables, also contain essential vitamins, minerals and fiber. The potato, a starchy carbohydrate-rich vegetable serves as an excellent source of fiber, the nutrient that keeps your digestive tract healthy, aids in weight loss and reduces your risk for heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. However, not all potatoes are created equal. Of the most commonly consumed types of potatoes, the sweet potato wins the title of highest in fiber.
On average, Americans consume only 15 grams of fiber per day. However, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends adults consume 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories in their diet. For women ages 19 to 50, this translates to about 25 grams of fiber per day. To reach this goal, consume good sources of fiber, or foods considered high in fiber. Good sources of fiber contain 2.5 to 4.9 grams of fiber per serving, while high-fiber foods contain at least 5 grams of fiber in each serving. To get the most fiber from potatoes, consume the entire potato including the flesh and the skin.
Russet potatoes, commonly called Idaho potatoes, are the most commonly used potatoes in the United States. Characterized by rough brown skin and white starchy flesh, this type of potato makes fluffy mashed potatoes and ideal baked potatoes. Although high in starch, russet potatoes contain a low level of fiber, providing only 2.8 grams in a medium-sized potato weighing 213 grams.
Red potatoes, characterized by their red skin and firm, waxy flesh, remains firm throughout cooking, making it ideal for soups and stews. Red potatoes also make firm yet tender potato salad. Red potatoes contain less starch than Russet potatoes, but slightly more fiber; a 213-gram medium-sized red potato provides 3.6 grams.
Although more popular in European countries, the white potato is gaining fans throughout the United States. The low starch content of this potato allows it to hold up well when boiled, making it the perfect potato to use in potato salads. Try grilling white potatoes because this method enhances the slightly sweet flavor of the flesh. A medium-sized white potato weighing 213 grams contains 5.1 grams of fiber, making it a high-fiber food.
Despite the name, sweet potatoes are not part of the same vegetable family as other potatoes. However, because the average person considers the sweet potato a potato and commonly uses them in place of potatoes, sweet potatoes earn the title of the potato with the highest fiber content. The same 213-gram serving of sweet potato contains 6.4 grams of fiber.
- Institute of Medicine: Dietary Reference Intakes – Macromolecules
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Dietary Guidelines for Americans
- Colorado State University Extension: Dietary Fiber
- Potatoes Goodness Unearthed: Types of Potatoes
- National Nutrient Database: Potato, Russet, flesh and skin, raw
- National Nutrient Database: Potato, white, flesh and skin, raw
- National Nutrient Database: Potato, red, flesh and skin, raw
- National Nutrient Database: Sweet Potato, raw
- Mayo Clinic: Dietary Fiber
- Washington State Potato Commission: Washington Potatoes are Nutritious
- Martin Poole/Digital Vision/Getty Images