How to Make a Healthy Baked Potato

You don't have to give up spuds for the sake of your diet.

When it comes to the baked potato, we tend to blame the messenger, villainizing a perfectly decent spud for delivering butter, sour cream, bacon bits, and more. On it's own, though, a medium russet potato– skin and all– has just 168 calories and some impressive nutrients:

  • 4 grams of fiber to fill you up
  • 952 mg of potassium (that's more than twice the amount in a medium banana, and about 20 percent of your daily recommended amount)
  • 37 grams of carbohydrates, your body and brain's preferred source of fuel
  • Almost 2 mg of iron, or about 15 percent of what you need each day

Bottom line: Potatoes aren't the enemy. But let's get back to toppings, because there are so many great-tasting, body-friendly options. Try Greek yogurt instead of sour cream, a drizzle of olive oil instead of butter, and beans or sautéed greens instead of bacon. Now that's what I call a hot — and healthy — potato.

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Make It a Meal

Sauté 1/4 cup chopped red pepper in 1 tsp olive oil until soft. Add 1 tsp chili powder, 1/4 cup black beans, and a handful of spinach, and cook until warmed through. Top potato with pepper mixture, sliced avocado, a squeeze of lime, and a few thin slices of chile pepper for extra heat. There's no side dish, people!

Adding healthy fats and protein — like avocado and black beans — helps even out the spike in blood sugar from the potato's carbs.

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But... Carbs!

Repeat after me: I won't fear carbohydrates. It's true: After you eat carbs, they turn into sugars (technically blood glucose in your bloodstream, but potayto, potahto). The carbs in taters, though, come with other vitamins and minerals, while the ones in white flour pack little nutritional punch.

Eat the skin! It's got about half of the potato's nutrients.

This story originally appeared in the March 2017 issue of Dr. Oz The Good Life.

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