(Health Secrets) Know anybody who doesn’t like potatoes? Referred to as comfort food, the potato’s botanical name is Solanum, which means soothing. But potatoes are much more than feel good food, so eat them whenever you like, and skip the guilt.
Potatoes are as good for you as broccoli
Potatoes have long been thought of as fattening starchy food with few redeeming qualities. But that all changed when a plant geneticist, Roy Navarre, identified 60 kinds of vitamins and phytochemicals in the skins and flesh of the potato, making it equal in value to broccoli, spinach, and Brussels sprouts, the superstars of eating right. Navarre’s research team also identified high levels quercetin and kukoamines in the potato. Kukoamines have special blood pressure lowering capabilities that are found in only one other plant, the gogi berry.
Vitamin B6 is necessary for more than 100 enzymatic reactions in the body. Without enzymes, vitamins and minerals are useless. Amino acids require B6 for their synthesis, as do nucleic acids used in the creation of DNA, making it essential for the formation of virtually all new cells in the body. Cellular communication is dependent on B6, as is proper functioning of the nervous system. Vitamin B6 plays a key role in methylation, a process that makes many important reactions take place, including the switching on of tumor suppressor gene p53, a key action in cancer prevention. Methylation is important to cardiovascular heath as well.
One medium size potato with its skin provides 21% of the daily requirement of vitamin B6! It also provides a whopping 50% of the daily value of vitamin C, a blockbuster nutrient that needs it’s own article. It is rich in fiber, the substance that helps estrogen clear the body and keeps cholesterol normalized. And that potato provides 4 grams of protein, and twice the potassium level of a banana, to make sure your heart beats are regular and to keep away arrhythmias. If you are having irregular heart beats, try adding more potatoes to you diet before you sign up for a pacemaker.
The potato contains glycoalkaloids which reduce the production of certain cancer cells, such as those in the liver.
Also contained in the mighty spud are low levels of natural benzodiazepines, which act as sedatives, anticonvulsants and muscle relaxers. They calm anxiety and feelings of panic.
Which potatoes are best?
Root vegetables absorb whatever is in the soil in which they are grown, so herbicides, pesticides and fungicides in the soil become part of the potato too. The standard procedure when growing conventional potatoes is to saturate the seed potatoes and the soil in which potatoes are to be grown with these chemicals. There are 78 different pesticides that can be used on potatoes sold in the U.S. 68 of them are linked to chronic health problems such as cancer. The Environmental Working Group ranks potatoes in their Dirty Dozen, their list of the fruits and vegetables with the highest pesticide load.
Farmers of conventional potatoes usually grow another crop (chemical free) which is kept separate for their families to eat!
Potatoes are relatively inexpensive, making organic potatoes the clear best choice. Although food grown organically is not necessarily free of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides, the products used are not as deadly, and multiple products are not often used on the same plants.
And remember that with all packaged products containing potatoes, unless the package clearly states the potatoes are organic, they are not. This goes for restaurant and food bar potatoes too.
How to keep your potatoes happy
Like all living food, potatoes should never be kept in a plastic bag because they will suffocate. They should not be stored in the refrigerator because their starch will turn to sugar. Instead, place them in a cool, dry spot away from light. Keep them away from onions until you’re ready to cook them. A properly stored potato can stay fresh up to two months.
A few quick ideas
*Puree roasted garlic, cooked potatoes and olive oil together to make delicious garlic mashed potatoes. Season to taste.
*Potatoes are featured in the classic dish, Salad Nicoise, that pairs boiled new potatoes with chunks of tuna and steamed green beans, dressed with oil and vinegar.
*Toss steamed, diced potatoes with olive oil and herbs of your choice. Serve hot. Or add chopped egg, celery, pickles and olives to create a delicious potato salad. Toss either version with sea salt.
This writer’s favorite (only for people who like lots of flavor)
Bake medium organic Yukon Gold potatoes at 400 degrees for 1 hour and 20 minutes. (A toaster oven is great for this). As soon as they are done, slice them up so pieces of skin are bit sized. For each potato, add 3 tablespoons (or more) of organic butter along with 1/8 teaspoon organic garlic powder, 1/8 teaspoon of organic cayenne pepper, a good sized pinch of sea salt (Eden Sea Salt is terrific) and 10 drops of Franks Red Hot Sauce. Mix and eat. Fabulous!
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