We all love potatoes. Whether they're fries, mashed potatoes, or even a steaming, hot baked potato, we eat them more than we think. Potatoes are a root vegetable (as they grow underground) and contain starch. Starches are complex carbohydrates that take a while for the body to digest, therefore, they slowly give the body the energy it needs to function. 

The total amount of carbs found in a medium-sized potato is about 37 grams of carbohydrates, which is a substantial amount of energy. So if potatoes give us this awesome and natural energy, they must be healthy, right?

Potatoes Actually Have a Lot of Nutrients

Seen as a health food, potatoes contain high amounts of vitamin C, fiber, vitamin B6, iron, and potassium. But in order for all of these nutrients to be present, the potato skin must also be present, since that's where the majority of nutrients are located. 

In addition to all of this vitamin-goodness, an average medium-sized potato also contains about 4 grams of protein. This makes potatoes a great vegan protein source.

Heat = Cancer

ketchup, spaghetti, pasta, french fries
Alex Frank

So, we all know that fries are bad for us, right? They're fried in fatty oils and have been said to contain dangerous carcinogens.

Back in 2002, Swedish scientists revealed that a possible cancer agent, known as acrylamide, is produced in the cooking process of some foods, namely potatoes. When heated over 250°F, a chemical reaction between certain sugars and an amino acid produces acrylamide. This creation leads baked potatoes and fries to be more dangerous to our health than we previously thought.

Another study done by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition tells us more heartbreaking news. Those who consume fried potatoes two or more times per week are twice as likely to die an early death compared to those who don't consume them. Sad news, right?

Aren't Sweet Potatoes Healthier?

sweet potato, sweet
Alexandra Hayes

Well, not necessarily. Sweet potatoes have more fiber and vitamin A, but regular potatoes contain higher amounts of iron, magnesium, potassium and Vitamin C. And if you really think about it, sweet potatoes are eaten in healthier meals. They aren't usually consumed as chips or cheesy potato skins.

However, like most things, you should consume this healthy plant in moderate amounts, preferably without frying them. Bring some balance to your life by having a mix of regular potatoes and some sweet potatoes. Instead of fries, opt in for mashed potatoes, and avoid all the acrylamide.