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Do you want potatoes with that?

September was National Family Meals Month and National Cholesterol Education Month. What better time to talk about the health benefits of everyone’s favorite side dish? Potatoes! Here are a few things you can appreciate about these nutritious spuds.

Loaded with potassium

A medium-sized skin-on potato is a good source of potassium, a nutrient that plays a necessary role in muscle contractions, heart function and fluid balance. Research shows that diets rich in potassium can help lower blood pressure.

Excellent source of vitamin C

You can get 30 percent of your suggested daily intake of vitamin C in just one medium potato. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that not only helps your immune system, but also helps protect against heart disease.

Protein plus fiber

Did you know a medium potato has 3 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber? Soluble fiber helps you feel full longer, and research has shown it also may help lower blood cholesterol.

Variety is the spud of life

You’ve probably noticed: There’s a wide variety of potato types out there, in addition to a variety of ways to prepare them. The trick is knowing which kind of potato is best for each cooking method. Here are a few pointers to help.

• Russets have a high starch content which gives them a fluffy texture when baked, mashed or sliced into wedges and roasted (an excellent alternative to French fries).

• Reds are waxy potatoes with a lower starch content. They hold their shape well when boiled, roasted or steamed.

• Yellow potatoes have a natural buttery flavor and are great for mashing or roasting.

• Fingerlings are long and narrow, stretching about two to four inches long. Their waxy and firm texture makes them ideal for boiling and steaming.

• White potatoes have thin skins but hold up great on the grill.

• Purple potatoes have a striking deep plum-colored flesh and a mild nutty flavor. They retain their color when microwaved, baked or steamed.

• Petite potatoes are just as the name implies: small. That makes them great for roasting whole — no knife skills required.

Find recipes for all the ways to cook potatoes at Hy-Vee.com/recipes-ideas. And remember, you can always contact your local Hy-Vee registered dietitian to set up a consultation or biometric screening.

Potato Poppers with Turmeric

Serves 5

Total Time: 20 minutes

All you need:

1 1/2 pounds petite potatoes (any color)

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 tsp ground turmeric

1 pinch crushed red pepper

1 pinch cayenne pepper

Sea salt and pepper, to taste

2 tbsp fresh chopped chives

All you do:

1. Steam potatoes (with skin on) in a large, covered saucepan with 1 inch of lightly salted water for about 12 minutes, or until tender; drain.

2. Toss immediately with olive oil, lemon juice, turmeric, peppers and salt. Allow to cool slightly and toss with chopped fresh chives.

Nutrition facts per serving: 154 calories, 6g fat, 28mg sodium, 25g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 3g protein, 584mg potassium

Claire Henning, RD, LD, is a registered dietitian at Hy-Vee

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