Potatoes are one of the most common and important food sources on the planet, and they contain a wealth of health benefits that make them all the more essential as a staple dietary item for much of the world’s population. These health benefits include their ability to improve digestion, reduce cholesterol levels, boost heart health, protect from polyps, prevent cancer, manage diabetes, strengthen the immune system, reduce signs of aging, protect the skin, increase circulation, reduce blood pressure, maintain fluid balance, reduce insomnia, and boost eye health.They were first cultivated somewhere between 7,000 and 10,000 years ago in that Central American and South American region. The term potato can refer to either the plant or the entire tuber, which is rather shapeless and ugly, in most varieties. It’s scientific name is Solanum Tuberosum.
Nutritional Value of Potatoes
The reason that potatoes have spread across the globe so quickly and has 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, 100 gm will contain about 17 mg of Vitamin C. In addition to this, they also contains Vitamin A, B and P.
Water Content: Potatoes looks very big in size, but water accounts for about 70-80 percent 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 can’t 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 one of the best natural sources of starch. However, you should avoid eating sprouted potatoes as sprouting leads to the conversion of starch into sugar.
Note: most of the nutrients in a potato are just beneath its skin. If you eat the skin along with the inside part, you get all these nutrients, or else what you primarily end up eating is just carbohydrates!
Health Benefits of Potatoes
Weight Gain: Potatoes are primarily made of carbohydrates and contain very little protein. This makes it an ideal diet for those excessively lean or 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. That is one of the reasons that potatoes make up a large part of the diet of sumo wrestlers, as well as many other athletes who need large energy reserves to burn off in order to compete!
Digestion: Since potatoes predominantly contain carbohydrates, they are easy to digest and facilitate digestion. This property makes them a good diet for babies or for those who cannot digest hard food, but need energy. However, remember that eating too many potatoes on a regular basis may cause acidity over time. Potatoes also contain a considerable amount of fiber or roughage, more in raw potato and cold ones than boiled or hot ones. This stimulates peristaltic motion and increased secretion of gastric juices, which eases digestion and prevents conditions like constipation and protects the body from more serious conditions like colorectal cancer. Fiber is also connected with scraping cholesterol out of the arteries and blood vessels, thereby increasing heart health.
Skin Care: Vitamin-C and B-complex as well as minerals like potassium, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc are good for the skin. Apart from that, pulp obtained from crushed raw potatoes, mixed with honey, can work well in skin and face packs. This even helps to cure pimples and spots on the skin. Again, this pulp, if applied externally on burns, provides quick relief and faster healing. Smashed potatoes, and even water in which potatoes have been washed, are very good for softening and cleaning skin, especially around the elbows, and the back of the hands.
Scurvy: The vitamin-C present in potatoes can help prevent this disease, caused by a deficiency of vitamin-C. It is characterized by cracked lip corners, spongy and bleeding gums, and frequent viral infections. Although it has been eliminated from most first and second world countries with ready access to vitamin C, it still exists in certain nations of the world, so the prolific presence of potatoes in the world helps with this problem.
Rheumatism: There are two parts to the effect of potatoes on this condition. Vitamins like the calcium and magnesium help to provide relief from rheumatism. Also, water obtained from boiling potatoes can relieve the pain and inflammation of rheumatism. However, due to high starch and carbohydrate content, it tends to increase body weight which may have adverse effects on rheumatic people. It is a fine balance, so you must apply it as a helpful approach without consuming the potato itself.
Inflammation: Potatoes are very effective in reducing inflammation, both internal and external. Since it is soft, easily digested and has a lot of vitamin-C (a very good antioxidant that repairs tissue wear and tear), potassium and vitamin-B6, it can relieve any inflammation of the intestines and the digestive system. It is 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, but again, since it can add to weight gain, which exacerbates these conditions, and is commonly eaten with meat and other rich foods that make gout worse, a fine balance must be struck.
Cancer Prevention: Certain types of potatoes, particularly red and russet ones, contain high levels of flavonoid antioxidants and vitamin A like zeaxanthin and carotenes, they can protect you against many types of cancer. Also, research at the Agricultural Research service has shown that potatoes contain a compound called quercetin, which has been proven to have anti-cancer and anti-tumor properties. Finally, the high levels of vitamin A and C both have antioxidant qualities that can protect your body.