Potatoes are the most commonly consumed vegetable in the United States, according to the USDA. Although they have an undeserved reputation as starch bombs, these beloved “spuds” actually offer plenty of essential nutrients and health benefits—especially in vegan mashed potatoes.
What are the health benefits of potatoes?
One medium baked potato with the skin provides about 4 grams of fiber, nearly 30 percent of the Daily Value for vitamin C, over 25 percent for potassium, and at least 10 percent for iron, magnesium, and a handful of B vitamins. Potatoes are also one of the best antioxidant-rich foods. And potato consumption may help fight inflammation, lower cholesterol, and protect against cancer, obesity, and type 2 diabetes, according to a review in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.
A 2020 trial published in the journal Clinical Nutrition found that even in people with type 2 diabetes, eating potatoes as part of a mixed dinner did not negatively impact blood sugar regulation. In the rigorously controlled clinical trial, people ate the same breakfast and lunch but were randomly assigned to one of four dinners. Three included skinless white potatoes prepared in three different ways (boiled, roasted, boiled, then cooled and reheated), or basmati rice. The participants repeated the experiment, rotating through all four of the dinners, with nine-day breaks between each switch.
In addition to collecting blood samples both immediately after meals, and again every 30 minutes for two hours, participants wore continuous glucose monitors overnight to track blood sugar level changes during sleep. Researchers found that there were no differences in glucose responses following the potato dinners. In addition, the participants’ overnight glycemic responses were more favorable after eating any of the potato side dishes compared to the rice. The researchers concluded that potatoes do not need to be avoided when consumed as part of a mixed-evening meal, even in people with type 2 diabetes.
How to make vegan mashed potatoes
Of the many ways to enjoy potatoes, mashed is one of my favorites. When made vegan, this oh-so-satisfying comfort food dish can be quite nutritious, and just as tasty as a traditional version. Here’s my go-to recipe, and why it’s so good for you.
Rather than butter, I opted for extra virgin olive oil to give these vegan mashed potatoes a rich texture and mouthfeel. This high-antioxidant, healthy fat, a staple of the Mediterranean Diet, has been shown to protect against cardiovascular diseases, including heart attack and stroke, as per the journal Endocrine, Metabolic and Immune Disorders Drug Targets.
Garlic, another flavorful ingredient that adds savory umami taste, has been found in research to reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol, regulate blood pressure, and stave off artery hardening, according to the Chinese Journal of Natural Medicines.
The herbs included in both the vegetable broth and fresh chive garnish add bonus antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, according to a 2019 study, published in the Journal of AOAC International.
The use of the reserved cooking liquid adds flavor, and captures some of the nutrients that leach out during boiling, adding them back to the finished dish.
I chose gold potatoes because of their velvety texture, buttery color, and delicate skin. Potatoes are one of the vegetables you shouldn’t peel because leaving the skin on boosts the recipe’s fiber content. According to research published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, the skin is an important source of health-protective antioxidants.
Makes four half-cup servings
1 pound petite gold potatoes, skin on
1/4 cup organic low sodium vegetable broth
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon sea salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Freshly minced chives
Quarter the potatoes, leaving skin on. Place the potatoes into a large pot and cover with cool water by about one inch. Cover and bring to a boil. Uncover when boiling, add half of the salt, and reduce to a simmer. Simmer until the potatoes are tender (when a fork or the tip of a pairing knife slides easily through the cubes), about 20 minutes.
In a medium bowl, set aside 1 cup of the potato cooking liquid. Drain the potatoes, then put them back in the pot for a few minutes on low-medium heat to evaporate any excess moisture. Transfer the potatoes to a large bowl, cover, and set aside.
Add the olive oil and garlic to the pot. Sweat the garlic over very low heat for about 5 minutes. Add the veggie broth and heat to warm through. Pour the broth mixture over the potatoes. Add the remaining salt and the black pepper and mash by hand until the potatoes are fairly smooth. Add the reserved cooking liquid, one tablespoon at a time. Continue to mash until you’re reached the desired consistency (note: I use 1/4 cup). Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with the minced chives.