If we ask you what is the most commonly used vegetable you always have in your kitchen, then you may say ‘potato’, won’t you? And why not, everyone loves potatoes a lot and these are very easily available too. Whether you eat any other vegetable or not potatoes are a must. It has become something like a staple food in India. Not just that, we also love potato made food items like french fries, potato chips, etc. But how much do we know about potatoes? Today let’s check what it got for us.
Not just the regular potato but there many variants in this. Do you know there are as many as 600 varieties sold in US? Well, I cannot name them all here but I can tell that there are categories which are russet, red, blue or purple, petite, white, yellow and fingerling. Let’s not talk about all those varieties but we can check the common ones we eat daily.
Few Interesting Facts About Potatoes
On an average every human being eats about 33 kg potatoes each year. Guess what? Australians are the greatest potato lovers and they eat 60 kg a year.
A person can live just on potatoes and butter or milk. Potato lacks vitamin A and D which we need to get from milk or any dairy product; otherwise potatoes have everything else.
China is the leading producer of potatoes.
Potato contains a toxic compound called solanine which can induce toxicity in green potatoes. It rarely causes headaches, cramps and diarrhea but sometimes it can also cause coma and death.
French fries were made popular by Thomas Jefferson when he served them at a White House dinner.
The word ‘potato’ came from a Spanish word, ‘batata’.
Nutritional Values of Potatoes
You can call potatoes as nutritional powerhouse since they are rich sources of many nutrients.
A medium sized potato has about 46% of the RDA value of vitamin C.
It contains about 18% of RDA value of potassium.
It also has iron, zinc, niacin, folate and thiamin.
New potatoes or unskinned potatoes and baked potatoes has about 7g of dietary fibre while a skinned potato has 2g of dietary fibre.
It is also rich in resistant starch.
It is free of fat and sodium.
Potatoes are gluten free and so are good sources of carbohydrates for gluten sensitive people.
20 Health Benefits of Potatoes
Now we know that potatoes are very good source of many nutrients but many people eat them all wrong in a wrong form. French fries, potato chips, baked potatoes with fats like cheese, butter, sour cream, etc. are totally unhealthy way of eating this nutritious vegetable. If you eat it this way then it becomes really tough to lose weight. Moreover it increases the risk of heart attack. If it is prepared without extra fat and frying, baked potatoes can also be really healthy.
We have seen that potatoes are very good source of vitamin B6, iron, manganese, potassium, copper, phosphorus, vitamin C, niacin, pantothenic acid and dietary fibre.
They are also rich in phytonutrients with antioxidant properties.
Flavonoids, caffeic acid and carotenoids are the health promoting compounds present in potatoes.
1. Weight Gain
If you want to gain weight then potato can help you. It is very rich in carbohydrates which is required for weight gain. Vitamin C and vitamin B which are required for the absorption of carbohydrates are also present in potatoes. Sumo wrestlers and athletes usually need so much of energy to burn and so they eat more potatoes.
2. Better Digestion
Carbohydrates easily and potatoes are all about carbohydrates. This is also given to infants who cannot digest food easily. However daily consumption on long run can cause acidity.
3. Skin Care
B complex, vitamin C, potassium, zinc, magnesium and phosphorus are essential for healthy skin. Therapeutic vitamins like vitamin A and D, and antioxidant vitamins like C, E and Q are also required for skin. Potatoes have it all and so can protect your skin from skin conditions like psoriasis, acne, smoke and pollutants; it also protects skin from harmful skin rays. Vitamin C in it promotes collagen production resulting in youthful skin. Similarly potato can be used externally for beautiful skin.
4. Prevents Scurvy
Scurvy is a disease caused due to deficiency of vitamin C. Potatoes are rich sources of vitamin C and so they can help prevent this disease.
5. Prevents Symptoms of Rheumatism
Potatoes are rich in magnesium and calcium and these nutrients are required to relieve the symptoms of rheumatism. A study showed that potatoes work against type II collagen induced arthritis.
Even the water we get from boiling the potatoes can relieve the inflammation caused due to rheumatism. However as it is rich in starch content, it can gain weight resulting badly on rheumatic patients.
6. Improves Sleep And Memory
Choline is something like vitamin which body produces in small amounts; however, you should also take it through diet. This essential part of your body tissues helps in sleep, memory, muscle movements, learning, etc. It also reduces chronic inflammation, helps in nerve impulse transmission and fat absorption.
7. Prevent Inflammation
Potatoes have antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory properties which relieves and inflammatory pain and also produces new agents required for inflammatory diseases. Some say that potatoes trigger arthritis flares but this is a misconception. People with mouth ulcers, gout or any condition that causes inflammation should eat potatoes.
8. Prevents Cancer
Russets and red potatoes are rich in flavonoids and vitamin A such as carotenes and zeaxanthin. These can protect against many types of cancer.
Antioxidant activity in potatoes is higher than that in carrots, bell peppers and onions.
Folate present in potatoes plays a very important role of repairing damaged DNA and its synthesis. So, they also prevent cancer caused due to DNA mutations.
Even vitamin A and C in potatoes fight against cancer cells.
9. Potatoes Control High Blood Pressure And Prevent Heart Disease
Potassium is present is potatoes especially in the peels which reduces the blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases. However if your blood pressure increased due to diabetes, potatoes should be avoided since they can rapidly increase the blood glucose levels. As we are talking about potassium in a potato, let me tell that potassium in more in potatoes than in bananas. Potatoes also have substances namely chlorogenic acid and kukoamines which help in reducing the blood pressure. Not just potassium and these substance but also magnesium and calcium in potatoes also control the high blood pressure.
10. Lowers Cholesterol And Improves Insulin Function
Potatoes are rich in fibre if taken along with peel. This can lower the cholesterol levels and also improve the insulin function by binding it to the cholesterol present in the blood.
11. Prevents Heart Disease
Carotenoids are essential for healthy heart and the carotenoids present in potatoes are lutein and zeaxanthin. In addition to these, vitamin B6 and C also support heart health. However this preventing heart disease with potatoes is not recommended because over consumption of potatoes can increase blood glucose levels which can adversely affect on heart.
12. Helps In Blood Formation
Potatoes are rich in vitamin B6 which is required for the formation of red blood cells. It also helps in reducing a chemical called homocysteine which is associated to degenerative diseases like cognitive disorders. Deficiency of this vitamin can cause cardiovascular disease.
13. Boost Brain Function
Brain function depends mostly on carbohydrates or glucose level, oxygen, fatty acids, B complex and amino acids and potatoes contain all of them. Zinc and phosphorus in this vegetable also improves brain functioning. Vitamin B6 is also essential for neurological health which is present in potatoes. It also helps in producing brain chemicals like dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin; thus, potatoes can reduce stress, ADHD and depression. More glucose supply to the brain means it won’t get tired and stays active. Iron is the mineral that carries oxygen to the brain and it is present in potatoes. Potassium is also associated to brain health; it keeps stimulating the brain function. It makes sure that brain gets required blood supply.
14. Prevents Premenstrual And Depressive Symptoms
Vitamin B6 teats PMS and related depression.
15. Prevent Diarrhea
Potatoes are easy to digest and provide energy with fibre content. So, those who suffer from diarrhea need energy which can be provided by potatoes. However excess of it can also harm them due to excessive ingestion of starch.
16. Boosts Immunity
Potatoes are rich in vitamin C and so can prevent cold and many such diseases boosting immunity. The components of immune system like natural antimicrobial activities can be improved with the help of this vitamin. Moreover this vitamin along with zinc can reduce the risk of malaria, diarrhea and pneumonia infections.
17. Improves Athletic Performance
Potatoes peels are rich in sodium and potassium which balance the electrolytes and thus maintain homeostasis or optimum body function. When athletes sweat a lot they gradually lose electrolytes as a result they get cramps. Thus balancing electrolytes is very essential.
18. Provide Satiety
The substance in potatoes that give fullness feeling is still unknown but a boiled potato can make you feel full for longer duration when compared to rice and pasta.
19. Promotes Bone Strength
You already know that potatoes are rich in iron, magnesium, zinc, calcium and phosphorus; these are all required for healthy and strong bones. Zinc and iron help in the production and maturation of collagen while phosphorus and calcium help in mineralization of bones.
20. Prevents Kidney Stones
When uric acid level increases in the blood, kidney stones are formed. In this case, all the foods rich in protein should be avoided especially animal food. Spinach, black grams, raw plantains, milk, etc. should also be avoided. In addition to this iron and calcium also contribute to these stones which are present in potatoes. So, it is clear that potatoes should be avoided by those with kidney stones; but potatoes are also rich in magnesium which prevents the deposition of calcium in the kidneys, which is known as calcification.So, it is beneficial in this way. To be clear, potatoes may not able to treat kidney stones and should not be consumed too but it can prevent kidney stones formation.
Do you know any other health benefit of potatoes? Share with us.