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The most common variety of potato in the United States is the Russet Burbank, also known as the russet potato, named after American horticulturist Luther Burbank. These oblong white potatoes are ideal for baking. If you top a baked russet potato with butter, sour cream and bacon bits, it can quickly become an artery-clogging monstrosity. However, eaten plain or with heart-healthy garnishments, such as olive oil and chopped chives, a russet potato contains nutrients and fiber that can benefit your heart, bones, immune system and metabolism.
Vitamin C and Iron
The potato may not seem like a food rich in vitamin C, but a large baked russet potato provides 25 milligrams of vitamin C, giving women and men, respectively, 33 percent and 28 percent of their recommended daily intake for vitamin C. The vitamin C in a potato can help your body absorb its 3.2 milligrams of iron as well. The Institute of Medicine recommends that men get 8 milligrams of iron a day and women get 18 milligrams. Vitamin C and iron benefit your immune system and circulation.
Eating russet potatoes can help protect against heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. A large baked russet has 7 grams of fiber, which helps lower your cholesterol, reducing your risk of developing plaque in your arteries. It also provides more than one-third of your daily requirement for potassium, a mineral that works with sodium to maintain a healthy balance of water in your body and keep your blood pressure low. With only 290 calories, a potato can help you control your weight, another heart-healthy factor.
Your body needs B vitamins to help it convert food into energy. A russet potato contains 30 percent of the niacin and 10 to 20 percent of the thiamine, riboflavin and folate you need each day. It also gives you four-fifths of your recommended daily intake for vitamin B-6 and 8 grams of protein. Your brain needs the presence of both vitamin B-6 and the amino acids in protein to make neurotransmitters that help your brain and body function optimally.
To avoid a loss of bone density, which can result in fractures and osteoporosis, you need an adequate intake of magnesium and phosphorus, minerals that play a role in the formation of bones and teeth. A large baked russet potato is a rich source of these nutrients, with about 30 percent of the magnesium and phosphorus the IOM recommends you get each day. Magnesium also promotes normal nerve and muscle function, while phosphorus helps your body store energy from food.