Is the Mighty Potato a Veggie or Not?

We all know the humble potato to be hard-working and versatile, but what exactly is it? Can the potato be classified as a fruit or vegetable? Here’s everything you need to know.

Are Potatoes Vegetables?

Yes, a potato is definitely a vegetable. It comes from an annual plant that is grown for its edible root.

Vegetables are classified into five subgroups based on their nutritional content, according to the USDA: dark-green vegetables, beans and peas, starchy vegetables, red and orange vegetables, and other vegetables.

So where exactly do potatoes fit into all this? A potato is astarchy vegetable — also known as, a starch.

What’s a Starch?

Starchy vegetables contain notably more starch than other vegetable categories (shocking, I know). Starch is a type of carbohydrate. In fact, it’s the main type of carbohydrate in your diet.

Carbohydrates often get a bad rap — that’s unfortunate, because they give your body much-needed energy. The simplest carbohydrates are sugars but, because it’s made up of joined sugar molecules, starch is considered a complex carbohydrate.

For most, a healthy, balanced diet consists of both starchy (potatoes, corn, green peas) and non-starchy vegetables (leafy greens, cauliflower, asparagus, etc.).

Potato Nutrition

This may come as a shock to many people, but potatoes offer some excellent nutritive benefits. To understand the role they play in a healthy diet, you must separate them from their identity as greasy French fries and buttery mashed potatoes. (Note: We’ve got absolutely nothing against French fries and mashed potatoes — but most don’t eat them for health benefits).

Yes, those delicious (but calorically dense) foods are made from potatoes, but that doesn’t mean you should count them as part of your daily vegetable intake. Let’s take a look at another example: Ice cream is made from milk. Does that mean we should ignore milk’s health benefits and classify it as dessert? No.

Potatoes and other starchy vegetables pack a serious nutritional punch because they are rich in fiber, beneficial carbohydrates, and even offer protein.

The Bottom Line

A potato is definitely a vegetable. Because it’s considered a starchy vegetable, it’s nutritionally different from other types of veggies — but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. If anything, white potatoes simply aren’t veggies you necessarily need to prioritize for daily consumption.

Related:

  • How to Choose the Right Potato for Your Recipe
  • What Are the Best Potatoes for Potato Salad?
  • How to Make Baked Potatoes
  • Can You Peel and Cut Potatoes Ahead of Time