Instant potato flakes are a quick and easy way to serve mashed potatoes, but you may wonder if you're choosing convenience over nutrition. Comparing the nutritional components of instant mashed potatoes to the real thing—a boiled potato—reveals information that will put your mind at ease.
Instant mashed potatoes are made from potatoes that have been cooked, mashed and then dried to result in a packaged product that can be quickly reconstituted into mashed potatoes by adding hot water or milk.
Instant Mashed Potatoes
According to USDA nutrition information, 60 g of instant potato flakes contain no fat and they have 62 mg of sodium, 49 g of total carbohydrates, 4 g of fiber, and 5 g of protein. When it comes to vitamins and minerals, they have 81 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin C, 2 percent of calcium, and 4 percent of iron.
Since the instant mashed potatoes go through a cooking process, let’s compare their nutritional value to a potato that has been boiled until it is tender. Potatoes that are boiled without the skin have 0 g of fat, 15 mg of sodium, 60 g of total carbohydrates, 5 g of fiber, and 5 g of protein. They also have 37 percent of the daily value for vitamin C, 2 percent for calcium, and 5 percent for iron.
Both products contain nutrients that are not included in the standard nutrition label, including vitamin K, thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6 and phosphorous. They both supply about 7 percent of the daily value of vitamin K and 20 percent of niacin. They’re good sources of thiamin and vitamin B6; the flakes provide 40 percent of thiamin and 22 percent of B6, while the potato has 20 percent of thiamin and 40 percent of the daily value of B6.
In most categories, the two products are essentially the same. The nutritional values that are different become more equal after the instant potatoes are prepared by mixing them with boiling water because even with milk and butter added, some of the nutritional values drop. Even though it appears as though the boiled potatoes have significantly less vitamin C, the vitamin C from the instant product drops to 34 percent once they have been prepared. Two other values that change once the instant potatoes are reconstituted are thiamin and vitamin B6. The values drop to 18 percent (thiamin) and 10 percent (vitamin B6). The amount of dietary fiber is 5 g for the potato, 4 g for the flakes, and then it drops a little to 2 grams when the instant potatoes are cooked.
Potatoes in any form contain three important nutrients that you might not expect to find. A boiled potato has 28 percent—and the instant flakes have 19 percent—of the recommended daily value of potassium. Potassium is a great nutrient that is needed to keep the kidneys functioning, maintain a healthy heart, and to ensure muscle contraction.
They also both contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. A boiled potato has 30 mg of omega-3 and 96 mg of omega-6 fatty acids. The instant potatoes contain 16.2 mg of omega-3 and 55.8 mg of omega-6 fatty acids. These are both essential fatty acids because they are necessary for brain function, growth and regulating metabolism; the body does not produce them.