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IBX Insights

Food vs. Food: Potatoes

By March 13, 2017July 13th, 2023Well-being
The text Food vs Food Potato mashup! with photos of different types of potatoes

Potato, po-tah-toe, Yukon Gold, Idaho Russet, waxy, starchy…there are so many types of potato that it’s easy to get them mashed up in our heads. So we put them eye to eye to see how these spuds stack up against each other, nutritionally and in your favorite dishes.

Round 1: Regular Potatoes vs. Sweet Potatoes

Nutrient-wise, regular potatoes came out swinging with twice as much potassium as sweets. Also, one medium white potato contains 70 percent of the daily recommended value of Vitamin C. Not bad! However, sweet potatoes are way higher in Vitamin A — one cup has 377% of the daily value. Another difference? Sweet potatoes are higher in fiber, which helps us feel fuller longer. So if you’re going to splurge on a side of fries, make it the sweet ones.

The winner: Sweet potatoes

Round 2: Waxy vs. Starchy

In recipes, waxy and starchy potatoes are kind of like apples and oranges. Starchy potatoes, such as Russets, Idahos, and non-round white potatoes are best for mashing and baking. Waxy potatoes, such as Yukon gold and red potatoes, are best in recipes that call for them to hold their shape, such as roasting for oven fries or boiling for potato salads.

Speaking of holding your shape, here’s how these spuds can help keep you at your fighting weight: Try broth or lowfat milk in your mashed potatoes, or yogurt instead of sour cream on your baked potatoes. Use small amounts of good-quality olive oil to roast.

The winner: Tie

Round 3: Skin on vs. Skin off

This time it’s shirts vs. skins…or, rather, skins vs. skinless. You commonly hear that most of a potato’s nutrients are in the skin, but this isn’t necessarily true. While the skins add fiber and iron, the flesh contains most of the other nutrients found in potatoes, such as Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, and thiamin. Still, there’s no reason to break up a great team.

The winner: Skin on

Round 4: Conventional vs. Organic

As the last round shows, potato skins bring a lot to the table. But it’s important to consider what else they could bring: pesticides. The USDA Pesticide Data Program found residue of 35 pesticides on potato skins. Be sure to always wash your spuds thoroughly, using a vegetable brush and, if you have it, veggie wash or a bit of vinegar and water. Still concerned about pesticides? You might want to buy organic.

The winner: Organic with an asterisk. Wash your veggies, no matter what!

Feel like food is a battle? See a dietitian for free!

Did you know that Independence members get six free nutrition counseling sessions a year?* You can search for a participating registered dietitian using our online provider directory.

Nutrient information comes from the USDA

* Not all employers offer nutrition counseling visits as part of their benefits plans. Please contact Customer Service or your benefits administrator to determine if this benefit applies to your coverage.


Rebecca Finkel

I’ve been vegetarian, vegan, macrobiotic, paleo, gluten free, dairy-free, low-carb, and kosher, yet I fall again and again to the lure of the Reuben. As I get older, I’m learning to take a more omnivorous approach to health, but I still love writing about new trends in diet, fitness, and wellbeing.