Mashed, grated, roasted, fried, boiled, pulverized, steamed, or stewed! My, oh, my! Don’t we just love Solanum tuberosum? Oops! I mean potatoes! Potatoes are no doubt, one of the best things that ever happened to humankind. They were first domesticated in the Andes in South America up to 10,000 years ago and were introduced into Europe by Spanish explorers in the early 16th century. Think of all the mouthwatering potato recipes you know; from potato gnocchi, potato leek soup, potato gratin, potato salad, hash browns, potato bread, right down to the undeniably popular French fries. And you are in potato heaven.
Before you start thinking, “there’s possibly no way everyone can be in the potatoes fan club”. Let’s do a little reality check. There are over 200 varieties of potatoes sold throughout the United States, and each of these varieties fit into one of seven potato types: russet, red, white, yellow, blue/purple, fingerling and petite. There are about 5,000 potato varieties worldwide. Three thousand of them are found in the Andes alone, mainly in Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Chile, and Colombia. When it comes to texture, potatoes can be starchy, waxy or in between. What’s more? Potatoes could either be sweet or bland. So, no matter how extraterrestrial your preference is, the good news is; there’s a potato plan for you! And oh! Before I forget, potatoes are available all year long. They are also quite cheap to grow, and they can make a delicious treat.
Apart from all the delicious goodness, potatoes contain rich nutrients, fiber, phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals that strengthen the human immune system and benefit the general well being. Potatoes are also gluten-free and loaded with nutritional benefits essential for a healthy life.
The next few paragraphs will walk you through some of the amazing health benefits of potatoes and why you would be doing yourself a favor when you eat them.
Potatoes Reduce the Risk of Heart Problems!
Research has shown that a higher intake of potassium and a lower intake of sodium reduces the risk of developing heart-related illnesses. The potato’s fiber, potassium, vitamin C, vitamin B6 and low cholesterol make this tuber a winner for lovers of healthy food.
So the next time you pick a potato, remember that it contains fiber which helps lower the amount of cholesterol in the blood, thereby decreasing the risk of heart disease.
Good for Decreasing Blood Pressure
According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), less than 2 percent of American adults meet the daily 4,700-milligram recommendation.
To maintain a healthy blood pressure, the sodium intake in the body must be relatively low, but potassium intake is equally important, as this has to be relatively high. Potassium widens the blood vessels and aids even regulation of blood through the body.
Potatoes also contain calcium, and magnesium and these are very efficient at decreasing blood pressure.
Keeps Obesity at Bay!
Okay! Except genetically, being fat hasn`t been in the picture, or you simply don’t care how much you weigh, you have at one point or the other, worried about your weight. Well, introducing POTATOES! Potatoes are highly enriched with fibers. Dietary fibers are known to be indispensable in weight management and weight loss.
Basically, what potato does is to numb hunger pangs and make you feel fuller than you actually are. So, if you are on a weight loss diet, you might as well consider adding some potatoes to that!
However, you might want to abstain from French fries and any potato recipe that contains oils, creams, and fatty substances. Sticking to a plain potato recipe works best if you intend to lose weight. Plain potato is low in calories. A medium sized potato would give you the following nutrients in these estimated quantities:
0.30grams of fat
0 grams of cholesterol
42.16 grams of carbohydrate
4.2 grams of dietary fiber
4.20grams of protein
20 milligrams (mg) of calcium
0.128 mg of iron
54 mg of magnesium
150 mg of phosphorus
1088 mg of potassium
24.12mg of vitamin C
0.422mg of vitamin B6
76 micrograms (mcg) of folate
Potatoes Are Good for your Skin
Collagen is the skin’s best friend. Vitamin C works as an antioxidant to help prevent damage caused by the external factors such as the sun, pollution, and smoke. Guess what! Potato contains all these good stuff!
Potatoes help the body to build and maintain bone structure and strength. This is because it contains iron, phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, and zinc. Iron and zinc are responsible for the production and maturation of collagen within the body. Potatoes also contain phosphorus and calcium in the required quantity. These are both important in bone structure, however, it is essential to balance both minerals for proper bone development. Too much phosphorus and too little calcium result in bone loss and contribute to osteoporosis. And hey, we are glad that we don’t have to worry about that with potatoes.
Potatoes are also rich in folate. Folate plays a crucial role in DNA formation and repair. Thus, it prevents many types of cancer cells from forming, due to changes in the DNA.
Fruits and vegetables like potatoes which are high in fiber are also good for lowering the risk of colorectal cancer.
The Vitamin C and quercetin found in potatoes, also function as antioxidants, protecting cells against damage.
Great Source of Energy!
Potatoes are a great source of vitamin B6. This plays a vital role in energy metabolism, by breaking down carbohydrates and proteins into glucose and amino acids. These smaller compounds are more easily utilized for energy within the body.
So, if you want that extra boost, look no further than the potato. Potatoes also provide the carbohydrate, potassium, and energy you need every day. Potatoes are more energy-packed than any other popular vegetable and have even more potassium than bananas. The energy from potatoes is excellent for both physical and mental activities.
Potatoes Strengthen your Immune System
Potato contains Vitamin C, which has been found to have ameliorative effects on flu. Not only does it help cure flu, but it helps cure it FAST!
Research has found that vitamin C may help reduce the severity and duration of a cold. Potatoes are a good source of vitamin C.
Potatoes Aid your Digestive System
The fiber content in potatoes prevents constipation and aids easy digestion for a healthier digestive system.
Improves Mood, Boosts Memory and So Much More!
Ever wondered why you suddenly felt so good after that pack tasty french fries or bowl of leek soup? Well, it turns out that potatoes contain choline. Choline is an important and versatile nutrient that is present in potatoes. It helps with a range of important stuff in your body such as muscle movement, mood, learning, and memory.
It also helps in maintaining the structure of cellular membranes, transmitting nerve signals, weight regulation, and early brain development.
Parents might consider adding healthy potato meals to their children’s diet, as the choline will help develop their brains early and facilitate easy learning.
Eating potatoes will not only improve your general mood and well being, it will also help you retain and assimilate better. I guess you might just as well dig into a pack of crisps right before an exam!
Why Don’t you Join the Potato Squad!
So, let’s take a recap. In the preceding paragraphs, I told you potatoes contain awesome nutrients and antioxidants great for a healthy lifestyle. It’s great for your mood, your mental development, and immune system. Potatoes give you the needed energy to carry out simple day to day tasks, like walking your dog, rushing to the subway or just hanging out with your friends. And who wouldn’t want a flawless skin? Why spend tons of dollars on inorganic skin care products, when you can get the natural potato goodness? Potatoes are cheap and easy to access since they are available all year long. So when next you go grocery shopping, grab a bag of potatoes and for your next meal, don’t forget to slide a potato into that recipe.