We need to re-think potatoes and how they have an important place in a balanced and varied diet, according to Dietitian Aoife Hearne.

Hearne, who features on Operation Transformation, has said that in line with many other traditional habits that we have lost, as a nation we need to re-learn how to use potatoes as an ingredient in our foods.

She explained why potatoes are perceived as a ‘problem’ food in our diets by saying that it comes from the recent overweight and obesity statistics report for Ireland.

The dietician also said that weight loss is a big business and that low carbohydrate diets are seriously trendy.

However, from a nutrition point of view and a sustainability point of view Hearne said that potatoes are an essential component in a varied and balanced diet.

So, with that in mind, here are seven things you didn’t know about the humble spud:

  • Potatoes are low in fat and saturated fat which help keep your heart healthy.
  • They are a low sugar food.
  • They contain no salt.
  • Potatoes are naturally gluten-free so are suitable for people with coeliac disease.
  • Potatoes are suitable for all vegetarian and vegan diets.
  • An average baked potato in its skin has more fibre than two slices of wholemeal bread.
  • The potato is grown in practically every culture on the planet and it sustains whole populations of countries.

She also advises that like all foods, potatoes should be enjoyed in moderate amounts for best health and not to add in high-fat foods.

Limit the amount of butter, full-fat cheese and sour cream as they add unnecessary calories and fats.

For some alternative recipes for potatoes, check out potato.ie¬†and the ‘more than a bit on the side’ campaign to promote potatoes.