Most of us know potatoes to be this starchy vegetable full of carbohydrates and unwanted calories. We tend to associate it with junk food like French fries and chips (crisps) thereby steering in into the must-avoid-food-category. However, the humble potato has much more to offer than meets the eye. First domesticated in the Andes over 10,000 years ago, potatoes have grown to become the 4th largest cultivated crop in the world. Cheap, easy to grow and wholly nutritious, potatoes are a necessary part of a meal in most cultures around the world. The largest growers of potatoes today are China and India, with over 4,00 different varieties to offer.
Potatoes belong to the night shade family which also have vegetables like eggplants, peppers and tomatoes. Other than for domestic consumption, potatoes have a varied use in different industries. In industrial food manufacturing potato starch is used as a thickening and binding agent in soups and sauces, while the whole vegetable is used in the production of alcoholic beverages like vodka. The textile industry uses it as an adhesive for manufacturing paper and boards.
A medium sized potato contains approximately 20gms of carbohydrates, 2.1 gms of dietary fiber, 2.1gms of protein, and 0.15gms of fat. A 100gm serving would have around 90 calories. Potatoes have numerous health benefits, some of its most important ones being:
- It has a high content of vitamin C which acts as an antioxidant that attacks free radicals in the body. It helps boost the immunity system and improve skin health.
- Potatoes are an excellent source of various minerals, the most important being phosphorus, magnesium, calcium and iron. The presence of phosphorus and calcium together help in maintaining proper bone mineralization as well as production and maturation of collagen.
- Its high potassium and low sodium content makes potatoes a favorite amongst those suffering from high blood pressure and heart ailments. Potassium helps decrease blood pressure naturally and the fiber present helps in lowering the total amount of cholesterol in the blood.
- Potatoes contain various flavonoid called Choline which helps with internal and external inflammation. The phytochemical present in potatoes help in maintaining cell membranes, improve transmission of nerve impulses and the overall health of the central nervous system.