Potatoes are one of the most common and important food sources on the planet, and they contain a wealth of health benefits that makes them all the more essential as a staple dietary item for much of the worlds population. The term potato can refer to either the plant or the entire tuber, which is rather shapeless and ugly.
In most varieties its scientific name is Solanum tuberosum, and it is actually a member of the nightshade family. These vegetables are native to the Americas, most likely in the andes, peru, and Bolivia. They have been cultivated somewhere between 7,000 and 10,000 years ago in the central and south American region.
Today its difficult to imagine a diet without potatoes, they have somehow become one of the most popular and recognized food on the planet. Potato lovers and even those who dont like them yet will be equally delighted to know that potatoes have nutritional components that so far go beyond carbohydrates and calories, and they can be an extremely beneficial addition to any dietary plan.
Potatoes are often thought of as a comfort food richly mashed with butter and sour cream or crisply fried in vegetable oil. But when prepared in these ways, they can lead to weight gain, diabetes and heart disease according to the Harvard school of public health. Potatoes are low in calories; a medium sized baked potato contains only about 110 calories. They are a good source of Vitamin C and B6 Manganese, Phosphorus, Niacin and Pantothenic acid.
The reason potatoes have spread across the globe so quickly and have been so widely accepted is because they are a storehouse of energy and nutrition, including Vitamins, Minerals and essential organic compounds.
Mineral Content: If you eat potatoes regularly you ensure a good supply of water and ions in your body. This is because they are rich in potassium. The concentration is highest in the skin and just beneath it so eating the potato with its skin is always beneficial; they also contain calcium, iron and phosphorus.
Vitamin Content: Potatoes are known for the large amounts of vitamin C present in them typically 100gm serving will contain about 17mg of vitamin C. In addition to this they also contain vitamin A, vitamin B, and vitamin K.
Water Content: Potatoes may look huse, but water accounts for about 70-80% of their weight so the belief that you become fat by eating potatoes is a misconception. Of course if your potato servings contain large quantities of butter or if you cant keep away from those high- fat and high – cholesterol french fries, then you are bound to become overweight.
Starch Content: Potatoes contain about 17% starch and they are of the best natural sources. However you should avoid eating sprouted potatoes as sprouting leads to the conversion of starch into sugar.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF POTATOES
Promote Healthy Weight Gain
Potatoes are primarily made of carbohydrates and contain very little protein this makes them an ideal diet for lean and thin people who desperately want to put on weight. The vitamin content includes vitamin C and B- complex, which also help in proper absorption of carbohydrates. This is one of the reason that potatoes make up a large parts of the diet of many athletes who need large energy reserves in order to compete.
Easy to Digest
Since potatoes predominantly contain carbohydrate they are easy to digest and their benefits extend towards facilitation of digestion. This property makes them a good diet for babies or for those who cannot digest hard food, but need energy. Potatoes also contain a considerable amount of fiber or roughage, which is more in raw potatoes and cold ones than boiled or hot ones. This stimulates perisaltic motion and increases secretion of gastric juices which ease digestion and prevents conditions like constipation while protecting the body from serious conditions like colorectal cancer.
Treatment of Scurvy
The vitamin C present in potatoes can help prevent this disease, caused by a deficiency of vitamin C. Scurvy is characterized by cracked up corners, spongy and bleeding gums and frequent viral infections. Although it is not found in first and second world countries as they have a ready access to vitamin C, it still exists in certain nations of the world, so the prolific presence of potatoes helps with this problem.
Potatoes are very effective in reducing inflammation both internally and externally. Since they are soft, easily digested and have a lot of vitamin C ( a very good antioxidant that repairs tissue wear and tear), potassium, and vitamin B6, they can relieve any inflammation in the intestines and the digestive system. They are a very good dietary element for those who have mouth ulcers as well, therefore, people who suffer from arthritis and gout can use potatoes for their anti-inflammatory impact.
Treatment of Kidney Stones
Kidney stones also known as renal calculi, are caused mainly due to increased levels of uric acid in the blood. In such cases, foods high in protein should be avoided, particularly animal proteins such as meat, turkey, shrimp, fish, eggs and certain beans, which drastically increase the level of uric acid in the blood. Iron and calcium also contribute to the formation of stones. Potatoes are rich in both of these and logically, they wouldn’t fit in as a preventative measure for kidney stones, but the also contain magnesium, which inhibits the accumulation or deposition of calcium (calcification) in the kidney and other tissues, thereby proving beneficial for the engagement of renal calculi.
WORD OF CAUTION
Despite the benefits, it is also important to keep a check on the consumption of potatoes. Green potatoes are often poisonous, and so are potato leaves and fruits, as they contain alkaloids like solanine, chaconine, and arsenic. An overdoes of those chemicals could easily prove fatal. Moreover, the energy or sugar content of potatoes is very high ( above 80) so people who are obese, trying to lose weight or suffering from diabetes should avoid eating potatoes.