Should You Be Throwing Out Potato Skins?

Potatoes are one of America's favorite vegetables. In fact, they were the most-purchased vegetable in the U.S. in 2021, based on data from the International Fresh Produce Association. Whether they're fried, baked, mashed, scalloped, or steamed, there are so many ways you can cook potatoes.

The skin of the potato, on the other hand, typically doesn't elicit the same positive reaction. Some people peel off all the skin before cooking the potatoes, or they'll throw it away after eating the flesh of a baked potato. Not everyone may be a fan of the texture or the taste of potato skin, and some people remove it to reduce the overall calories of their meal. But on the other end of the spectrum is a list of health benefits worthy of consideration. So should you be throwing out your potato skins or should you be eating them? What are the pros and cons?

Potato skins are packed with vitamins and minerals, but high in carbs

The flesh of a potato offers many health benefits, and so does the skin. It contains fiber, protein, vitamin C, calcium, and potassium, among other vitamins and minerals. Potato skins are also a natural source of a type of phytonutrient that helps protect the body from infection and disease (via Livestrong).

Potato skins can also be quite tasty when fried or baked. They're also included in many mashed potato recipes, too. Just be sure the skins aren't turning green before deciding to leave them on. Green potato skins indicate the presence of a dangerous neurotoxin that can make you feel sick (via Britannica).

As a root vegetable, potatoes are naturally high in starchy carbohydrates. The same applies to potato skins (via Harvard Health Publishing). While dietary fiber contributes to about 18% of those carbs, you should still avoid eating potato skins if you're on a low-carb diet. Even if you're not on a low-carb diet, eating too many starchy carbs can cause weight gain if you don't exercise, since starch is metabolized into glucose (via American Medical Association). So if you eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, and the potato skins aren't green, it's safe and beneficial to eat them.