Are Baked Potatoes Healthy?

Nutritionally speaking, potatoes often get a bad rap, but they can be a smart addition to healthful meals.

Spanakopita “Baked” Potato
Photo: Alison Miksch; Prop Styling: Mindi Shapiro Levine; Food Styling: Margaret Monroe Dickey

Nutritionally speaking, potatoes often get a bad rap, but they can be a smart addition to healthful meals. Not only are they an excellent source of vitamin C, they're rich in vitamin B6, the mineral potassium and a good source of fiber both in the skins and the flesh. Add to that, they're naturally gluten free, fat free, and sodium free. While you may associate potatoes with the carb category, they're actually a good source for plant based protein with 3 grams in a medium sized 5 ounce potato.

Obviously, baking is one of the healthiest ways to cook a potato (boiling is fine too), especially if you are going to eat the skins, which are a good source of fiber. But baked potatoes don't have to be loaded with butter, cheese, and sour cream in order to be delicious. If you think of a potato as a vehicle for eating vegetables, you can come up with an endless array of tasty topping ideas that also happen to be good for you. Such toppings might include: cottage cheese, steamed broccoli florets tossed in olive oil with a squeeze of lemon, canned diced tomatoes with Italian seasoning herbs, or plain yogurt with fresh chives.

But first, you'll have to bake some potatoes. (Pro tip: Russets are best for baking as they result in a fluffy texture on the inside.) Preheat the oven to 450°F. Rinse potatoes under cold water to remove any excess dirt. Pat dry with a paper towel. Pierce potatoes several times with a fork or paring knife. Drizzle 3 large baking potatoes with 2 tsp. olive or vegetable oil, and rub with 2 tsp. kosher salt. For less sodium, rub the potato skins with salted water before baking. Place on a 15- × 10-inch jelly-roll pan with a wire rack set on top. The rack keeps the potato elevated and allows air to circulate all around for even cooking and no soggy spots. Bake for 1 hour or until the centers are tender; cut in half. Results should be the perfect baked potato—crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside and ready to adorn with your favorite toppings.

Watch: Here's Why You Should Never Store Potatoes in Your Fridge

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  1. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Potatoes, russet, without skin, raw. FoodData Central.

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