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It's a bit sad about potatoes; just eat one!

I am feeling a bit sad about the treatment of potatoes in general. No, not sweet potatoes...good old normal potatoes; remember them? They have become so neglected and unfashionable in the nutrition world (well maybe apart from the most traditional of dietitians who also promote margarine and think avocado fat is the same as lard). I want to give them a bit of a boost - because they are really fantastic, especially when they're organic.

I can't count the number of times people have been shocked in my clinic when I recommend a potato as a source of carbohydrate in a meal. <Gasp> 'but they're just empty calories'. No, they absolutely are not. You cannot write potatoes off as equivalent to marshmallows!

Potatoes are a very good source of the following:

- Vitamin B6: Vital for cell building, brain and nervous cell activity, protecting heart and circulatory health and athletic performance. Feel like crap? Been restricting carbs? Just-eat-a-potato!!!!

- Potassium: Absolutely crucial for heart, skeletal and smooth muscle contraction;making it important for normal digestive and muscle functions to take place. All those raw foods and goji berries making you poo like an anxious camel? Just-eat-a-potato.

- Copper: Copper partners with iron to help the body form red blood cells. It also helps keep the blood vessels, nerves, immune system, and bones healthy. Just a bit important then...

- Vitamin C: Yes, you heard me - it's not just citrus fruits that provide vitamin C at all! Vital for the growth and repair of all your tissues, making collagen, healing wounds and maintaining bones a teeth. All those oranges giving you reflux? Just eat an easy-to-digest potato.

- Manganese: Helps the body to form connective tissue, bones, blood clotting agents and sex hormones. Additionally helps with fat and carbohydrate metabolism, absorption of calcium and the regulation of blood sugar. On top of that, it is vital for normal brain and nerve function. Feeling weird and lost your sex drive while juicing those greens for every meal? Just-eat-a-potato.

- Phosphorus: Deputy to calcium, phosphorus is the most abundant mineral in the body. Calcium and phosphorus work hand in hand to ensure your bones and teeth are strong (along with some other players which belong in another post). Quite an important mineral then. Not tolerating dairy? Just-eat-a-potato.

- Vitamin B3: Plays a role in lowering levels of LDL cholesterol, helping digestive, nervous and brain function occur normally and helps to make new DNA. Vitamin B3 also helps to ensure insulin is working efficiently to manage blood sugar levels and on top of that, helps in the processing of fats. Oh go on, you know you'll feel nicely full if you just-eat-that-potato.

I'll stop here. But it's very simple, don't blame the potato because you eat it in an unhealthy way: Don't fry it, cook it with excess oil or eat it with the skin removed (the skin is packed with nutrition) and you have a lovely source of energy promoting food there on your plate. No more than a third of your plate should be a concentrated source of carbohydrate (unless you have very high energy demands which you can discuss with your nutritionist). Try to buy organic potatoes since conventionally produced potatoes rank high on the pesticide residue lists. But overall, please be sensible and avoid becoming a victim of faddish dietary advice! Potatoes have sustained many a slim population for a long time: if your diet is healthy, full of natural foods, nothing bad will happen from eating a potato when you fancy it.

Welcome back potatoes :-)