We eat them mashed, fried, and baked, but how much do you know about potatoes and their protein content?
The nutrition facts of this pantry staple might surprise you. They contain more potassium than a banana and more vitamin B6 than an avocado. This powerhouse food can even be a valuable source of protein.
Join us as we discover exactly what kind of nutrition potatoes have.
Let’s dive in!
What Is Protein?
What you eat can be categorized by three macronutrients: fat, carbohydrates, and protein. All three have important roles in the body. Fat helps your body maintain healthy cells and carbohydrates create glucose which helps with energy levels.
Protein serves many roles, including helping keep muscles strong and ensuring you feel full after a meal. It also keeps your metabolism and immune system running smoothly.
For these reasons, it’s proven to be one of the most important parts of a person’s diet. The USDA recommends that up to 35 percent of your daily caloric intake should be from protein.
Protein can be found in high amounts in animal products like meat, cheese, and milk. People who don’t consume animal products still get protein from other foods, including legumes and nuts. Whatever your dietary preferences, protein still plays a key role in a healthy menu.
The Health Benefits of Potatoes
Many Americans consider potatoes a staple in their kitchen. These root vegetables come stacked with nutrients and antioxidants. They have no gluten and, most importantly, can be cooked into many delicious meals.
Eating a potato will give you a dose of Vitamin C, which can be helpful for your immune system. Sailors used to eat potatoes to prevent scurvy in the 1700s. Potatoes also serve up a heart-healthy dose of potassium. In addition, the fiber in a potato’s skin can keep your digestive system running smoothly.
The darker a potato, the more nutrients it usually contains. Sweet potatoes have nearly as much vitamin A, which keeps your vision sharp, as a carrot. Purple potatoes contain anthocyanins which diminish your chances of heart disease and boost your brain health.
Potatoes can start to be unhealthy when loaded with toppings like cheese and sour cream. The Thanksgiving favorite sweet potato casserole, full of brown sugar and butter and then topped with marshmallows, may be an example of potatoes in their least healthy form. But if you watch the toppings, potatoes can be an excellent source of nutrition.
Pro Tip: Preserve your potatoes by using this guide on the Easy Way To Store Potatoes for Months.
Which Potatoes Have the Most Protein?
We know potatoes provide a healthy dose of antioxidants and vitamins, but let’s talk protein. The cheapest and most common potato you see at the grocery store, the russet potato, has the most protein. The average russet potato contains about five grams of protein per serving, about as much as four deli slices of turkey. We love to toss a russet potato on the grill or the campfire when we’re camping.
Sweet potatoes have become increasingly popular in the last few years. You might’ve had them in a casserole or as a side of fries. It rings in at two grams of protein per serving, similar to the protein value of leafy greens or a slice of bread.
White and red potatoes also have about two grams of protein per serving, while gold potatoes have three grams. The classic vegetarian protein source, tofu, also has about three grams of protein per serving.
If you’ve been looking to use up that bag of potatoes sitting in your pantry, maybe now you can do so guilt-free. These root vegetables have it all, vitamins, nutrients, and even protein.
What Vegetable Has the Most Protein?
Potatoes contain some protein, but other vegetables contain higher ratios of the macronutrient. Spinach has the highest proportion of protein of any vegetable, with nearly 60 percent of its calories coming from protein. Other leafy greens like kale and collard greens ring in closer to forty percent.
Legumes like peas and green beans usually have about 30 percent of their caloric value from protein. Potatoes fall near the bottom of the list of protein per calorie, along with squash and peppers.
Though spinach has a high protein ratio, if you eat an entire cup of it, you’ll get less than a gram of protein. Protein makes up about ten percent of a potato’s calories, but because they have more calories, finishing up a russet potato gets you five times the amount of protein in a cup of spinach.
Pro Tip: Want to make some potatoes to pair with your breakfast? Find out Is a Proper Hash Brown Shredded or Diced?
How Much Protein Do You Need?
Everyone has different caloric needs depending on their age, weight, and activity level. According to the USDA, protein should make up anywhere from ten to 35 percent of your total calories. These guidelines have been frequently updated throughout the years, so check their website periodically to see updated recommendations.
If you live an active lifestyle or have concerns about losing muscle mass, you may want to consume closer to 35 percent. On the other hand, if you work a sedentary job, you may require closer to ten percent.
Many of us eat around 2,000 calories per day. Ten percent of 2,000 equals 200 calories, meaning we would want to consume about 200 calories of protein per day. A gram contains four calories, so we would want to consume 50 grams of protein per day. In terms of food amounts, that’s 50 cups of spinach, ten potatoes, or one eight-ounce steak.
Is Eating Potatoes For Their Protein Worth It?
If you’ve been looking for a well-rounded food to incorporate into your meals, potatoes just might be the answer. They have essential vitamins and minerals and even contain some protein.
But if you want to eat potatoes just for their protein, however, you might have better luck with a different vegetable. Leafy greens and legumes could be a better choice for protein content. While we love potatoes for their versatility and health benefits, they just don’t pack a protein punch the way other vegetables do.
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