Potato Skin Nutrition
To Peel, or Not to Peel?
Many people peel off the skins when they cook to make French fries, mashed potatoes, and hash browns. One of the reasons they do this is because the food looks cleaner. Unless you buy pre-cleaned potatoes, they'll have dirt on them. They were taken out of the ground, you know! Also, the skin is darker and will show up in the resulting food. So mashed potatoes with the skin on will have some darker spots in them. Hash browns and French fries with the skin on will be darker on the skin side.
Another reason some people skin their potatoes is because they believe that that they're full of pesticides. After all, pesticides are everywhere these days, and because the skin is located on the outside of the potato, that's where most of the pesticides are bound to reside.
All the Nutrients?
But many others contend that the majority of nutrients are contained in the skin. These nutrients include dietary fiber (which can help lower your LDL cholesterol), vitamin C (a powerful antioxidant), potassium (good for countering excess sodium and keeping your blood pressure in check), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine, the "mood vitamin," which is involved in metabolism and nerve cell communication), manganese (a metabolic coenzyme), and copper (good for you!).
Potato Skin Nutrition
So what's the potato skin nutrition truth? Are they full of pesticides, or full of nutrients?
Well, sorry if you wanted an easy answer, but the truth is that it depends. Because both sides have a good point. So in order to strike a happy medium, the best thing to do is, first of all, make sure to always wash your potatoes. That should go without saying; you never know what that potato might have come into contact with (including various people's' hands at the grocery store). Also, if you can afford it, you should buy organic. Organic potatoes ought to be free of the pesticides that plague most conventionally grown varieties.
But what if you can't afford organic potatoes? Or if you don't live close to a Whole Foods? In that case, you can strike a happy medium by cooking the potatoes with the skin on. Studies have shown that if you peel your potatoes before cooking them, you'll lose up to 30% of the nutrients. Keeping the skin on helps to prevent nutrient loss. Then, after the potato is cooked, peel it very carefully, making sure to only remove the very topmost layer. Because many people say that a lot of nutrients are located just underneath the skin. So if you cook the potato with the skin on, and then remove the outermost layer to get rid of the pesticides, you can retain the area just underneath the skin to get the maximum possible health benefit.