potato-heartMashed potatoes are a holiday classic. As a member of the nightshade family, potatoes are relatives of the tomato, eggplant and bell pepper. Surprising to some, there are over 100 different varieties. Native to the Andes Mountains in Bolivia and Peru, potatoes have been cultivated for over 7,000 years. Spanish explorers in South America took the potatoes back to Europe in the sixteenth century. Famously, between 1846 and 1850, potatoes became a main source of food for many Irish during what came to be known as the Irish Potato Famine. Irish immigrants brought the potato to the United States in the early eighteenth century. Today, Americans consume more potatoes pound for pound than any other vegetable.

Nutritional Highlights:

  • Potatoes are an excellent source of potassium, vitamins B6 and C, Niacin, pantothenic acid, dietary fiber, protein, and the essential amino acid lysine.
  • Most nutrients, such as the fiber and protein, are found in potatoes skins.
  • Potatoes are low in calories, with a medium-sized potato containing 115.

Health Benefits:

  • The largest health benefits of potatoes are due mainly to their nutrient content.
  • Studies being conducted are showing that boiled potato skins may be an effective treatment for skin wounds as they promote healing, pain relief and prevent the burn from becoming infected.

Fried, mashed, roasted and baked, potatoes are common in the American diet year-round. For a healthy spin on French fries, cut a potato in to stick shapes and toss them with olive oil. Place the coated pieces onto a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees F. for 20 minutes. Turn them and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes. What is your favorite potato Thanksgiving recipe?

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