Eating Habits

Healthy Eating Habits


We have been enjoying the humble spud for many years and it’s time to have a look at a few of the reasons why we should be continuing to eat them as part of any balanced meal.

1| Staple food which is cost-effective
In the majority of developing countries, potatoes are an easily accessible staple food that is cost-effective to ensure enough food and energy is provided at meal times for the whole family. Potatoes can be bought in bulk (to further save costs), they also last long and don’t spoil easily (when stored correctly). They can be cooked in a variety of ways and be enjoyed as part of all meals and snacks. The South African dietary guidelines recommend that we should make starchy foods part of most meals. You could make egg and potato frittatas for breakfast or a baked jacket potato for lunch. CLICK HERE to view some recipes ideas.

2| High in energy
In South Africa, starches such as potatoes, pap and rice are eaten as the foundation of most meals. One of the reasons for this is that potatoes contain energy and result in an increased feeling of fullness after a meal. The high content of carbohydrate found in potatoes is the body’s fuel for energy. When households are on a strict budget, energy and satisfaction from a meal are a priority. Potatoes tick all these boxes: they are filling, energy dense and a nutrient powerhouse. Choose natural energy from potatoes baked with skins on for a heart healthy meal choice.

3| Source of quality plant protein
Did you know 1 medium potato with skin (180g) provides 4.5g of protein? If this is not reason enough to fall in love with potatoes, we suggest you have your head checked (LOL). Seriously though, potatoes cooked with skins contribute to the much needed protein your body yearns for.

4| Fibre
Prepare potatoes with their skin on!! Remember most of the nutrients are retained therein. One medium potato (180g) with skin contains 3.6g of fibre, whereas a peeled potato only contains 2.7g of fibre. Fibre is beneficial for gut health which assists with regular bowel movements. It also contributes to satiety and lowered cholesterol in the body.

5| Rich in potassium
Potassium is a nutrient that plays an important role in health, one of its key functions is to help regulate blood pressure. Potassium assists by blunting the effect of sodium on blood pressure. Potatoes contain a large amount of potassium: one 180g serving of boiled/baked potatoes can contain roughly 20% of the daily recommendation of potassium.

6| Vitamin C
Potatoes contain vitamin C too. This vitamin is required for various functions in our body: collagen synthesis (connective tissue, cartilage, bone mineral density and tendons), free radical scavenging (antioxidant properties) and it can also help the body to absorb iron.

7| Naturally low in sodium
In their natural form, potatoes are low in sodium. Potatoes contain large amounts of potassium, and low amounts of sodium, therefore they have a high ratio of potassium to sodium – great for lowering blood pressure. The daily recommendation for salt is 5g of salt. When cooking potatoes, limit the amount of salt that you add to your.

9| Source of various vitamins & minerals
Vitamin B6 is also present in potatoes (varying between 10-19% of daily requirements). Potatoes also contain niacin and folate. Some of the other minerals found in potatoes include: copper, iodine, iron, phosphorous, manganese, magnesium, zinc and calcium. Again, the amounts may vary depending on the cultivar and size of the potato. Interestingly, the mineral content of the soil can have an influence on the mineral content within the potato. Potatoes really are a micronutrient powerhouses, providing an array of nutrients to contribute to an improved nutritional status.

10| Phytonutrients
Phytonutrients are natural compounds found in plants. Eating fruits or vegetables can boost your phytonutrients and contribute to improved health and decrease disease risk. Not only do potatoes provide energy and nutrients, they also contain a some phytonutrients (phenolics, flavonoids, folates, kukoamines, anthocyanins and carotenoids). Phytonutrients assist by helping the body through anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. The amount of phytonutrients present in each potato depends on the variety of potato.

1. Furrer, A.N., Chegeni, M.C. & Ferruzzi, M.G. 2018. Impact of potato processing on nutrients, phytochemicals, and human health. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. 58 (1): 146-168.
2. Ezekiel, R., Singh, N., Sharma, S. &Kaur, A. 2011. Beneficial phytochemicals in potato – a review. Food Research International. 50 (2013): 487-496.


We all know about the original five languages of love. Some suggest that food is in fact the sixth language of love. September is World Heart Awareness Month. Food is often times seen as the greatest form of expressing love. To the naked eye, potatoes have no love language. To the foodies, health professionals and potato fans, we can confidently affirm that potatoes have heart. And so, we take a look at the five languages of love in relation to food and more so, potatoes. Small changes in food choices, can have an impact on reducing cardiovascular disease and optimizing heart health.

1| Quality Time
Food is something that brings people together to share in quality time (QT). Social media has to a large degree robbed people of QT. Instead of being fully present in mind, body & soul, human beings seem to have resorted to gadgets and devices as a form of “QT”. QT with friends, family and loved ones, can be QT with that which we cannot live without: food! Here are some ideas to make the foods included during special quality time more nutritious and better for heart health:

Deep fried potato chips Oven baked potato wedges (with the skin on)
Potato salads with heaps of mayonnaise Boiled baby potatoes (with skin on) dressed in fresh herbs, boiled eggs and a yoghurt dressing
Peeled mashed potatoes with butter & cream Whole baby potatoes, mashed & drizzled with a little olive oil & fresh herbs

2| Physical touch
Physical touch is an important language of love as it gives one the feeling of comfort, belonging and safety. In relation to food, the comfort factor is definitely something we can all relate to. We all have that one dish that takes us back to a memorable time in our lives or to our grandmother’s house and makes our hearts and tummies happy. These dishes make one feel better when they’ve had a bad day and can easily transport one to a happy place, leaving them feeling rather satisfied and somewhat loved. Potatoes baked, boiled and/or steamed, with its jacket on, can indeed be food to the soul. Choose your carbohydrates wisely! The taste of the good ol’ spud is comfort to the tongue, and nutrients to the body. Did you know that one medium potato (90g), with skin, contains nutrients and about 2.2g of fibre? Mmmmmh…potatoes are the true underground hidden food treasure. Wholesome, filling & packed with vitamins & minerals.

3| Affirmation
Self love is the best they say. You are what you eat we say. Remember health is wealth. Investing in healthy eating habits and adopting a healthy lifestyle is a declaration of self-love. A stroke, heart attack or high blood pressure should not be a reminder of how precious your life is. Always positively affirm yourself and others through well chosen, fit for the soul food groups. Research by Churchill et al. (2017) found that there might be a link between self-affirmation and self-control with regards to snacking on unhealthy, calorie-dense foods. They suggested that an individual that struggles with self-control when it comes to snacks could benefit from self-affirmation. Prepare potatoes in a healthy way as part of the starchy part of a meal!

4| Receiving
In theory, receiving is about receiving gifts from someone or the giving of gifts to someone. It doesn’t need to be expensive or big, it’s more about the thought. Yes, when gifting, it is the thought that counts. Preparing and serving a meal to those we love is tantamount to gifting. There’s nothing as fulfilling as seeing those we love, well fed, happy and satiated. Be sure to include a lean protein (fish, legumes or chicken), healthy carbohydrates (potatoes with the skin, brown rice, quinoa, bulgur wheat etc.) and plenty of vegetables in the meal that you prepare. Remember, size matters! Calories play an important role in weight management and being conscious of the calories consumed in the diet is a key factor in optimising one’s weight.

5| Acts of service
Service is about backing word with actions. Service delivery is at the center of all communication (educational, fun and/or informative) efforts targeted at the end consumer. With all the flack potatoes have received over the years, around health and nutrition, fact and evidence remain a key priority in restoring the integrity of the potato offering. As a promise to all potato and non potato consumers, potatoes openly declare that:

They are naturally fat free – prepare potatoes in a healthy manner for optimum nutritional results.
They are multitalented – potatoes are at the heart of every proudly South African meal occasion. Breakfast, lunch, supper or event, you can trust on potatoes to brighten up your menu.
They are wholesome and tasty – classic goodness of the earth is a slogan that epitomizes the true essence of a well prepared and elegantly dressed spud. Potatoes are timeless and truly amazeballs!!

Love is not a word it is a verb. Love is potatoes prepared & served with passion, accurate information backed by fact and of course a bit of creativity will not harm.

Love your heart, love yourself, love your life!





1. The American Heart Association’s Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations. Updated: Jan 20,2016.
2. Romagnolo, D. F. & Selmin, O.I. 2017. Mediterranean Diet and Prevention of Chronic Diseases. Nutrition Today. 52 (5): 208-222.
3. Churchill, S., Jessop, D.C., Green, R. & Harris, P.R. 2017. Self-affirmation improves self-control over snacking among participants low in eating self-efficacy. Elsevier. 123: 264-268.


Key Nutrition Factors in the management of Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular disease is a group of conditions that include heart disease, damage to blood vessels, high blood pressure and heart failure. Heart disease is now the leading cause of death worldwide, and particularly frightening, is that more and more youngsters are being diagnosed. Nutrition and its impact in in reducing the risk to develop heart disease tops the list as one of the most important “modifiable risk factors”. In essence evidence indicates that changes to your everyday eating patterns can reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease. Some might say that healthy eating proves to be more than just a change of heart!

At Potato SA we often get asked “Can I include potatoes in my diet if I have high cholesterol or high blood pressure?” Both of these conditions contribute to heart health. In this article, we share the top ten nutrition tips to topple cardiovascular disease and improve overall heart health.

1| Weight Management
A huge amount of evidence shows that carrying excess body weight increases risk of cardiovascular disease. Fat that is stored around the tummy area can significantly increase incidence of disease. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (2016) weight loss of 5-10% of body weight in 6 months can improve cholesterol levels and blood pressure and even reduces the need for medication to control cardiovascular disease. Weight-loss is a win-win! Also, bulling up meals with foods that are more filling such as vegetables or potatoes can help you feel fuller for longer and therefore help with weight loss.

2| Big Fat Truths
The saturated fat debate is alive and well with many conflicting message in the media. Strong evidence shows that reducing saturated fat intake has a beneficial effect on the lipid profile. However, recently it was found that high levels of saturated fats in the diet didn’t cause an increased risk for CVD despite its effects on cholesterol. So now what? The take-home message is rather to consider what the saturated fat is replaced with in the diet, when it is removed. If saturated fats (butter, dairy fat, coconut oil and fat on meat) are replaced with mono-unsaturated fats (avo, nuts, olive oil and olives) and poly-unsaturated fats (seeds and vegetable oils) it is clear that cardiovascular disease risk decreases.

3| Quality Carbs
Following on from above, replacing saturated fats in the diet with poor quality carbohydrates increases CVD; heart attacks specifically. Poor quality carbohydrates are refined sugars and high Glycaemic-Index (GI) options such as cool drinks, sweets, chocolates, ice-cream, baked goods & take-aways. Not all carbs are equal when it comes to cardiovascular disease and health. High fibre, whole grain carbohydrates, fresh fruit and vegetable are all considered to be good quality carbs. Peeled potatoes served as mash or deep fried chips are poor quality carb choices and should be limited in the diet. However, boiled or baked potatoes with their skin intact, eaten in portion controlled amounts can be included as part of a heart healthy diet.

4| Mediterranean Magic
Dietary patterns have shown to be a powerful tool in the fight against cardiovascular disease. The Mediterranean dietary pattern is a sure-fire winner for reducing cardiovascular disease risk. The traditional Mediterranean diet is characterised by a high intake of olive oil, fruit, nuts, vegetables, legumes and whole-grains; a moderate intake of fish and poultry; and wine in moderation, consumed with meals. Lower intakes of sweets, sugar, processed meats, red meat and dairy are common in a Mediterranean eating pattern. Better adherence to these patterns of eating, have been consistently beneficial to lower cardiovascular disease risk.

5| Full-on Fibre
Soluble dietary fibre slows down transit of food through the gut and binds gut cholesterol, which is then excreted. This helps to lower total cholesterol and guess what? It is associated with a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease! Important sources of soluble fibre foods include: apples, potato flesh, papaya, oats and psyllium husk. Soluble fibre also adds bulk and delays emptying of food from the stomach. This keeps you full for longer and may assist with weight control.

6| Stop the Salt
Let’s start with the scary stats: globally, approximately 1.65 million annual cardiovascular disease deaths were attributable to sodium intake of more than 2g per day. High sodium intakes increase water retention which in turn, increases the volume of blood which skyrockets blood pressure. High blood pressure increases cardiovascular disease risk – it really is a vicious cycle. Many South Africans eat too much salt and according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of South Africa, we eat twice the amount of salt we should – about 6-11 g per day. It is advised that adults consume less than 2400 mg of sodium per day (or less than 5g of salt). Aim to lower salt intake in the diet by reducing the intake of processed foods and use lemon, garlic, ginger, herbs and curry spices to flavour food. Read more at

7| Potassium Power
The lesser known trace-mineral potassium also has an effect on blood pressure. Unlike its sodium counterpart, higher dietary intakes of potassium are associated with lowering blood pressure. In addition the risk of stroke events is almost 40% lower in study groups where individuals have high levels of potassium intake compared with groups of individuals who have low intakes of potassium. A single cooked jacket potato (150g) provides 710 mg of potassium, and when compared to other high potassium containing fruit and vegetables such as banana, tomato and spinach, the potassium content of the potato exceeds them all. Remember to keep the potato skin on to optimise potassium values.

8| Phabulous Phytonutrients
Phytonutrients are bioactive compounds in food that promote health. Phyto which means plant explains why these powerful compounds are found in plant-based foods. Polyphenols are a group of phytonutrients which are thought to have a preventative effect on the development of cardiovascular disease. Resveratrol, quercetin and curcumin are all polyphenols with resveratrol being shown to have a notably beneficial effect against most cardiovascular diseases. Resveratrol can be found in purple/blue coloured foods such as purple grapes, blueberries, cranberries, cocoa and red wine.

9| Keep it Fresh
High intake of fresh fruit and vegetables is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. Why you may ask? Well, in their wholefood, natural state, the bounteous beauties are good sources of potassium, fibre and anti-oxidants. The recommendations from the South African Food Based Dietary Guidelines are “Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables every day” while the WHO recommends 400g of fruit and vegetables per day (5 servings of 80g each). The American Heart Association echoes the above and encourages “Eat an overall healthy dietary pattern that emphasizes a variety of fruits and vegetables”.

10| Omega-3 from the Sea!
Last but not least, research shows that omega-3 fatty acids decrease triglycerides which are a type of fat in the blood. Omega-3 fatty acids also protect against cell damage which helps to reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease. Fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines, trout, and pilchards) have the highest amount of EPA and DHA which are the active compounds that are formed from the metabolism of omega-3 fatty acids in the body. It is the EPA and DHA that have been shown to be most beneficial for cardiovascular disease prevention. The goal therefore, is to eat 270 g of omega-3 rich fish per week or 3 servings of 90 g fatty fish weekly.

A quick checklist to improve cardiovascular health:

1. Reach a healthy weight.
2. Give preferences to mono-unsaturated fats in the diet such as avo, olives, nuts, olive oil and nut butters.
3. Choose better carbs such as fresh fruit, vegetables and high fibre, wholegrain options and limit the intake of refined carbs and foods with added sugar.
4. Make Mediterranean meals a regular part of the diet – including legumes and the odd glass of red wine with dinner.
5. Boost soluble fibre intake by eating oats, apple, potato flesh and papaya regularly.
6. Slow down on salt! Reduce the amount added during cooking and at meals and minimise processed foods in the diet.
7. Power up on potassium rich foods such as spinach, tomato, banana and the potassium hero: potato with skin.
8. Eat the colour of the rainbow through the intake of a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables.
9. Eat fresh, whole foods your grandmother would recognize.
10. Include a meal of fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, pilchards or sardines at least 3 times per week.


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