Potato: nutrition, shocking 2 medical uses & 2 adverse effects

potatoes 544073 1920

See also Sweet potatoes.

Potatoes Nutritional Profile

• Energy value (calories per serving): Moderate
• Protein: Moderate
• Fat: Low
• Saturated fat: Low
• Cholesterol: None
• Carbohydrates: High
• Fiber: High (with skin)
• Sodium: Low
• Major vitamin contribution: Folate, Vitamin C
• Major mineral contribution: Potassium

How Much Nutrients in This Food

• Potatoes are high-carbohydrate foods, rich in starch and dietary fiber, including insoluble cellulose and lignin in the skin and soluble pectins in the flesh. When potatoes are stored, their starches slowly turn to sugar.

• The longer a potato is stored, the sweeter and less tasty it will be. The proteins in potatoes are limited in the essential amino acids methionine and cystine.

• Potatoes are a good source of the B vitamin folate and vitamin C. Fresh potatoes have more vitamin C than stored potatoes; after three months’ storage, the potato has lost about one-third of its vita- min C; after six to seven months, about two-thirds.

• One six-ounce baked potato with its skin has four grams dietary fiber, four grams protein, 0.2 g total fat, 48 mcg folate (12 percent of the RDA), and 16 mg vitamin C (21 percent of the RDA for a woman, 13 per- cent of the RDA for a man).

• One ounce of regular (not low-fat) potato chips has 1.4 g dietary fiber, two grams protein, 9.8 g total fat, 13 mcg folate (3 percent of the RDA),
and 8.8 mg vitamin C (12 percent of the RDA for a woman, 10 percent of the RDA for a man).

• Potatoes are members of the nightshade family, Solanaceae, which includes eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, and some mushrooms. These plants
produce neurotoxins (nerve poisons) called glycoalkaloids. The glycoalkaloid in potatoes is solanine, a chemical that interferes with acetylcholinesterase, a neurotransmitter that enables cells to transmit impulses.

• Solanine is made in the green parts of the plant, the leaves, the stem, and any green spots on the skin. Potatoes exposed to light produce solanine more quickly and in higher amounts than potatoes stored in the dark, but all potatoes produce some solanine all the time. Solanine does not dissolve in water, nor is it destroyed by heat; any solanine present in a raw potato will still be there after you cook it. It is estimated than an adult might have to eat about three pounds of potatoes or 2.4 pounds of potato skins at one sitting to experience the first gastrointestinal or neurological signs of solanine poisoning.

• A child will react to smaller amounts, 1.5 pounds potatoes, 1.4 pounds potato skins. The U.S. government does not permit the sale of potatoes containing more than 200 ppm (parts per million) solanine. The potatoes we buy usually contain only 100 ppm, but the safest course is to discard all sprouting potatoes or potatoes with green spots on the skin.

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Diets That May Exclude or Restrict This Food

• Low-carbohydrate diet
• Low-salt diet (canned potatoes, potato chips, potato sticks, and the like)

How To Serve Nutritious Food

• As fresh as possible, with meat, milk, or grains to complete the potato’s proteins. With the skin, which is a valuable source of food fiber.

How To Buying This Food

Look for:

Firm potatoes with unscarred, unblemished skin. Different varieties of potatoes have skins of different thickness. This has no effect at all on the nutritional value of the potato.


Potatoes with peeling skin (an immature vegetable that won’t store well); potatoes with wrinkled or blemished skin (there may be decay inside); potatoes with green spots or sprouts growing out of the eyes (higher than normal levels of solanine); or moldy potatoes (potentially hazardous toxins).

How To Storing This Food

• Store potatoes in a dark, dry cabinet or root cellar to prevent sprouting and protect them from mold. The temperature should be cool, but not cold, since temperatures below 50°F encourage the conversion of the potato’s starches to sugar. If the potatoes are frozen, they will develop black rings inside. Use potatoes as quickly as possible. Vitamin C is sensitive to oxygen, so the longer potatoes are stored, the less vitamin C they will have.

• Do not wash potatoes before you store them nor store them in the refrigerator; dampness encourages the growth of mol.

How To bowl 1842294 1920Preparing This Food

• Discard potatoes with green spots, sprouting eyes, or patches of mold on the skin, and scrub the rest with a stiff vegetable brush under cool running water. When you peel and slice potatoes, throw out any that have rot or mold inside.

• Don’t peel or slice potatoes until you are ready to use them. When you cut into a potato and tear its cell walls you release polyphenoloxidase, an enzyme that hastens the oxidation of phenols in the potato, creating the brownish compounds that darken a fresh-cut potato.

• You can slow this reaction (but not stop it completely) by soaking the peeled sliced fresh potatoes in ice water, but many of the vitamins in the potatoes will leach out into the soaking water. Another alternative is to dip the sliced potatoes in an acid solution (lemon juice and water, vinegar and water), but this will alter the taste.

What Happens When You Cook This Food

• Starch consists of granules packed with the molecules of amylose and amylopectin. When you cook a potato, its starch granules absorb water molecules that cling to the amylose and amylopectin molecules, making the granules swell. If the granules absorb enough water, they will rupture, releasing the nutrients inside.

• If you are cooking potatoes in a stew or soup, the amylose and amylopectin molecules that escape from the ruptured starch granule will attract and hold water molecules in the liquid, thickening the dish.

• However you prepare them, cooked potatoes have more nutrients available than raw potatoes do. They may also be a different color. Like onions and cauliflower, potatoes contain pale anthoxanthin pigments that react with metal ions to form blue, green, or brown compounds. That’s why potatoes may turn yellowish if you cook them in an aluminum or iron pot or slice them with a carbon steel knife. To keep potatoes pale, cook them in a glass or enameled pot.

potato recipe

How Other Kinds of Processing Affect This Food


A potato’s cells are like a box whose stiff walls are held rigidly in place by the water inside the cell. When you freeze a cooked potato, the water in its cells forms ice crystals that can tear the cell walls, allowing liquid to leak out when the potatoes are defrosted, which is why defrosted potatoes taste mushy.

• Commercial processors get around this by partially dehydrating potatoes before they are frozen or by freezing potatoes in a sauce that gives an interesting flavor to take your mind off the texture.


Potato “flakes” and “granules” have fewer vitamins and minerals than fresh potatoes; potato chips and sticks are usually much higher in salt.

Potato salad.

Commercially prepared potato salads may be treated with a sulfite such as sulfur dioxide to inactivate polyphenoloxidase and keep the potatoes from darkening. People who are sensitive to sulfites may suffer serious allergic reactions, including potentially fatal anaphylactic shock if they eat potato salads treated with these chemicals.

Amazing Medical Uses and/or Benefits

To soothe a skin rash.

Potato starch, like corn starch, may be used as a dusting powder or added to a lukewarm bath to soothe a wet, “weepy” skin rash. The starch, which is very drying, should never be used on a dry rash or without a doctor’s advice.

As an antiscorbutic.

Raw potatoes, which are high in vitamin C, were once used as an anti-scorbutic, a substance that prevents or cures the vitamin C–deficiency disease scurvy. Today we have much more effective means of preventing scurvy.

Adverse Effects Associated with This Food

Solanine poisoning.

See About the nutrients in this food, above click here

Potential carcinogenicity.

A 2004 study from Stockholm University (Sweden) shows that exposing high-carbohydrate foods such as potatoes and grains to very high cooking temps triggers the production of odorless white crystals of acrylamide, a chemical the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency calls a “probable human carcinogen” in food.

• Currently, there is no evidence that the amount of acrylamide in potato chips and bread poses a serious threat to human health. However, in 2008, a report in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture explained, washing raw potatoes, or soaking them in water for 30 minutes, or soaking them in water for two hours reduced the formation of acrylamide by 23 percent, 38 percent, and 48 percent respectively, so long as the potatoes were then fried only to light gold.


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