1. The potato belongs to the Solanaceae or nightshade family. They are the swollen portion of the underground stem which is called a tuber and is designed to provide food for the green leafy portion of the plant. Potatoes are a versatile root vegetable and a staple food in many households. They’re generally eaten boiled, baked, or fried and frequently served as a side dish or snack. Common potato-based foods and food products include French fries, potato chips, and potato flour.
2. Potatoes are relatively cheap, easy to grow and packed with a variety of nutrients. The nutrients are Calories, Fat, Protein, Carbs, Fibre, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Potassium, Manganese, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Niacin and Folate. The nutritional content of potatoes however varies depending on the variety and how they are prepared.
3. Potatoes carb content ranges from 66-90% of dry weight which contain small amount of simple sugar such as sucrose, glucose and fructose. Their simple sugar content make them rank high on the glycemic index (GI), making it unsuitable for people with diabetics. However, boiling and allowing them to cool after cooking may lower their GI by 25-26%.
4. Potatoes do not have high fibre content, but they may become a significant source of fibre when eaten regularly. The highest level of potatoes fibre is found in the skin; when dried, the skin contains about 50% fibre. Potatoes contain resistant starch that helps control blood sugar. Compared to hot potatoes, cooled ones offer higher amount of resistant starch.
5. Potatoes are low in protein, ranging from 1-1.5% when French and 8_9% when dry. The main protein in potatoes is patatin which may cause allergic reaction in some people.
6. Potatoes are good source of vitamins and minerals, particularly potassium and vitamin c. however, these nutrients are reduced, depending on the cooking method. For example, potassium is concentrated in the skin and it is beneficial to the heart, so peeling the skin leads to loss of potassium. Also, vitamin C, the main vitamin in potatoes, is significantly reduced when cooked. Folate is mostly found in potatoes with coloured flesh and it is concentrated in the peel. Potatoes skins contain most of potatoes’ nutrients, so peeling the skin off significantly reduces their nutritional content. Therefore, it is advisable to eat potatoes with the skin.
7. Benefits of eating potatoes: Potatoes contain nutritional contents which are beneficial to humans. The following are the benefits of potatoes.
a. Accumulation of harmful molecules known as free radicals increase the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetics and cancer. Potatoes can help neutralize these molecules because they are reach in compounds like flavonoids, carotenoids and phenolic acids which acts as antioxidants in the body.
b. Potatoes contain a type of starch known as resistant starch, and it helps to improve blood sugar control.
c. Potatoes contain resistant starch, which are mostly converted into short-chain fatty acid butyrate and a nutritional source for beneficial gut bacteria. This helps reduce inflammation in the colon, improve colon defenses and lower risk of colorectal cancer.
d. Potatoes contain a number of nutritional content which helps lower blood pressure and keep heart healthy. For example, potatoes contain high potassium content, chlorogenic acid and kakoamines, all of which help lower risk of blood pressure and heart diseases.
e. Potatoes are carb-rich filling food which prolongs the feeling of fullness after meals. The reduce food and calorie intake, which invariable promote weight management.
8. Potatoes are popular food source and healthy food. However, cooking methods can make them harmful to one’s health. Most people eat potatoes in the form of greasy French fries or potato chips, and even baked potatoes are loaded down with fats such butter, sour cream, melted cheese and bacon. This can make potatoes potential contributor to heart attack, obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
9. To derive optimum nutritional benefits from potatoes, they should be baked or steamed, and eaten with their skin. Also, adding extra fat and deep frying should be avoided.