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In the list of the most widely consumed vegetable in the world the simple potato ranks number one. Potatoes are a rich source of carbohydrates, manganese Vitamin C, phosphorus, pantothenic acid, B6 etc. Potatoes provide a large number of health benefits like lowering blood pressure, strengthening bones, aiding in digestion, preventing osteoarthritis and boosting immunity. It is also beneficial in curing a lot of skin and hair related problems. Here we have discussed a few benefits of consuming potatoes along with its nutritional content, precautions, facts and more. Read on to find out what wonders a spud can do for you.
What is a Potato?
Potato is a tuberous crop of the nightshade family called Solanum tuberosum. The English word potato is a derivation of the Spanish word patata which in itself is an amalgamation of the Quechua papa and the Taino batata. It is believed that potatoes were first grown and domesticated in Peru and North-western Bolivia around 8000 BC to 5000 B.C. People in many countries of the world still rely on the potato as a staple food. More than 4000 native varieties of potatoes are known to man among which most are consumable. Potatoes also have around 180 different wild varieties. The small spud has countless health benefits some of which are mentioned below.
Benefits of Potatoes
1. Regulates Blood Pressure
A journal published by the American Chemical Society (ACS) concluded that potatoes can reduce blood pressure, obesity and other risks associated with the disease. Purple potatoes are a rich source of antioxidants, Vitamin C, iron and fibre. It was noted that people who consumed purple potatoes for four weeks showed an average drop of 4.3 % in their diastolic blood pressure and 3.5 % in systolic blood pressure.
2. Has cancer preventive properties
According to a research article published by the National Centre of Biotechnology Information (NCBI) sweet potatoes have chemopreventive properties. The research indicated that the purple potatoes have high concentrates of anthocyanins which are beneficial to human health. The potatoes were seen to decrease the numbers of adenoma and the report suggested that it can be used in the prevention of colorectal cancer.
3. Strengthens bones and prevents osteoporosis
The National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) in its health chart mentions that potatoes and sweet potatoes are crucial to bone health. Potatoes and sweet potatoes, a variety of potato is rich in magnesium which is very good for the bones. Regular consumption of potatoes can prevent brittle bones, bone loss and osteoporosis.
4. Reduces Inflammation and arthritic pain
Studies conducted by the Arthritis Foundation and published in its online journal show that potatoes can prevent joint inflammation and other diseases. Potatoes are rich in beta carotenoids like beta cryptoxanthin which can lower the risk of osteoarthritis, cartilage damage, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), joint inflammation and other diseases.
5. Prevents cardiovascular diseases
Potatoes have no cholesterol. They are also high in anthocyanins, potassium, fibre, B6 and fibre, all of which are good for the heart. According to an article published by NCBI, Alcalase Potato Protein Hydrolysate (APPH) reduces the LDL (bad cholesterol) levels in the body and provides protection to the heart.
6. Lower LDL Cholesterol in the Body
Potatoes have a lot of helpful phytochemicals and fewer calories than compared to many other foods. A journal published in the American Chemical Society showed that potatoes are rich in anthocyanins that regulate the blood pressure effectively. The soluble fibre in potatoes binds with the LDL in the body and passes out of the digestive tract thereby ridding the body of bad cholesterol.
7. Boosts Brain Health
Research has linked potatoes to brain health. Potatoes contain alpha lipoic acid that promotes memory and overall brain functioning. The acid aids in the treatment of memory loss in Alzheimer’s. Potatoes are also rich in antioxidants that kill free radicals and prevent cell damage, especially in the brain.
8. Aids in Digestion
According to an article published by the Plants journal, raw potato juice is beneficial in curing ailments related to digestion. Regular consumption of the juice of pink potatoes in small quantities can relieve problems of gastritis and stomach ulcers. Likewise, a potato rich diet can help in the treatment of constipation, dropsy, gout, kidney stones etc.
9. Contains Antioxidants
Potatoes are high in phytonutrients and antioxidants which are vital for the body. A study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry found that potatoes may help lower the blood pressure and the risk of cardiovascular diseases. The antioxidants present in potatoes scavenge free radicals from the body that cause cell damage. Regular consumption of potatoes was especially beneficial to people who were overweight and had hypertension.
10. May cure scurvy
Numerous studies have shown that potatoes can be used in the treatment of Scurvy. Potatoes are a rich source of Vitamin C which is extremely beneficial for the eyes. According to an article published in Plants Journal, mashed potatoes or potato cream is used in the treatment of infantile scurvy.
Nutritional Values of Potato
The nutritional value of 100 gms of potato
|Dietary Fiber||2.2 g|
|Saturated Fatty Acids||0.03 g|
|Monosaturated fatty acids||0.0 g|
|Polyunsaturated fatty acids||0.04 g|
|Thiamine B1||0.08 mg|
|Niacin B3||1.05 mg|
|Pantothenic Acid Vitamin B5||0.30 mg|
|Vitamin B6||0.30 mg|
|Folate B9||16 µg|
|Vitamin C||19.7 mg|
|Vitamin A||2 mg|
|Vitamin E||0.01 mg|
|Vitamin K1||1.9 µg|
|Beta carotene||1 mg|
Risks or Precautions when consuming Potatoes
- Potatoes that are in the sprouting stage, have green buds or have themselves turned green are high in solanine, a toxic compound. The compound can cause diarrhea, headaches, respiratory and circulatory disorders. Green potatoes should not be consumed whereas if the potato has green buds or eyes, the sprouts can be removed and then consumed.
- If potatoes are cooked above 120◦ C, they release a compound called acrylamide which has been linked to various cancers.
- If consumed in large quantities, potatoes can pose a serious health risk as they are rich in potassium. High concentrates of potassium in the blood can damage the kidneys.
How to Consume Potatoes
Potatoes can be included in our everyday diet in a number of ways. Here we have mentioned two of the healthiest recipes that call for less oil and almost no spices. Just follow the recipe and incorporate this tuber in your regular diet.
- Mashed Potatoes:
Peel and wash five to six large potatoes and keep aside. Fill a heavy bottomed pan with water, add a tablespoon salt and bring to a rolling boil. Then drop in the potatoes and cook until the potatoes are tender but firm. In a saucepan, heat two tablespoon of butter along with a cup of milk. Slowly incorporate the potatoes in the milk with the help of a potato masher or electric blender mad mash until smooth and creamy. Add some salt and pepper to taste.
- Baked Potatoes:
This is one of the easiest potatoes recipes. For this, you would need to preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Then wash and peel some medium sized potatoes. Pierce the potato skin multiple times with the help of a knife or fork. Rub olive oil and salt on the skin of the potatoes and pop them in the oven for approximately 90 minutes on medium rack. The potatoes should look golden brown. Cut down the centre of the potatoes and sprinkle with black pepper, butter and cheese. Boil for a few minutes until the cheese melts.
Some Fun Facts about Potatoes
- Potatoes belong to the nightshade family called the Solanaceae. Other members of the same family are tomatoes, eggplants, tobacco, chilli peppers and bell peppers.
- The largest potato holds the Guinness World Record of 2010. It was grown by a novice gardener named Peter Glazebrook. The potato weighed 3.76 kgs.
- Potatoes are the most widely eaten vegetable in the world followed by tomatoes and then onion.
- Potato is a staple crop in many parts of the world. After maize, rice and wheat, potato is the fourth largest food crop to be produced and consumed in the world.
Although the potato is left out from many food guides and nutrition charts because of their supposed link to obesity and fat calories, the potato should be included in our everyday diet. The potato is a powerhouse packed with carbohydrates, potassium, Vitamin C, dietary fibre and other vital nutrients which are crucial to human health. It also deserves a prominent position in our nutrition plans because consumption of potatoes is as vital as the consumption of any other white vegetable. So why wait? Take a bowl of potato, cook it the way you like and chow it down quick.