The commonly held conceptions regarding potatoes as unhealthy are basically false. Their health promoting properties are mostly unknown or ignored. Excluding French fries and potato chips, potatoes are considered super foods by some.
There are rising concerns about potential food shortages within this free fall economy. The fact that nutritionally dense potatoes are easy to grow year around in small lots, even flower boxes, offers another solution to this dilemma.
Lots of Nutrition, Even Protein!
Too much attention is paid to the starch content and somewhat high glycemic index of potatoes, which is manageable unless you`re a sugar freak or diabetic.
What’s ignored is the fact that potatoes contain all 22 amino acids to form complete proteins after easy digesting. It makes for easier protein absorption than the digestive effort of breaking down the complete proteins in meat and dairy.
Potatoes are a high source of potassium, even more than bananas, and are rich in other minerals. They are also rich in Vitamin C and B6. More importantly, Agricultural Research Service plant geneticist Roy Navarre has identified 60 different kinds of phytochemicals in the skins and flesh of a wide variety of potatoes.
Some potatoes` phenolic levels rival those of broccoli and spinach. Others contain high amounts of folic acid, quercetin and kukoamines. Only one other food contains all three of those compounds, gogi berries. Potatoes are antioxidant dense as well.
What About the Skins?
Some say the skins are poisonous, even though they contain a high concentration of potatoes` nutrients. They are alluding to a poison inherent in the potato`s leaves and stems to ward off foraging animals and insects, the alkaloid solanine.
This skin hazard is applicable to wild potatoes, but cultivated potatoes don`t have that risk unless part of the skin is green or sprouts have begun to form. When you see either, it`s wise to avoid that whole potato, even though it takes a hefty amount of solanine to experience an immediate toxic reaction. Otherwise, eating skins is recommended.
Keeping organically cultivated potatoes in a cool, dark dry place is important to prevent green skin or sprouts from forming. Stored this way, their shelf life is long. But it`s not a good idea to store potatoes in the refrigerator. That can cause the potato starch to become sugar.
A few health writers have mentioned that if they had to choose only one food for survival, it would be potatoes, baked, boiled, or sauteed but not fried. Combining potatoes` comfort food satisfaction with their high nutritional value of protein forming amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and especially disease preventing phytonutrients and antioxidants makes this an easy choice as a survival food.
Surviving on Spuds
Potatoes were the main staple of indigenous South American highland natives for centuries. The Spanish conquistadors grabbed a few along with tons of gold and silver and took them back to Europe. They discovered that eating potatoes prevented scurvy!
Slowly, various forms of potato meals became popular among peasants in several European nations. But they really took hold among the Irish. British rule prohibited Irish Catholics from entering the professions or owning land. They had to rent small plots from Anglo-Protestant owners and grow potatoes to survive.
That’s a survival clue. Lots of potatoes can be grown in a small area all year round, and it takes only a few to make a meal. Growing your own and neighborhood growing is gradually catching on. You can find out more by Googling “home grown potatoes” and “planting potatoes”. It`s even practical to grow edible potatoes in patio planters and window flower boxes.