The commonly held conception that potatoes are fattening and unhealthy is false. Their health promoting properties are simply unknown or ignored. Aside from French fries and potato chips, potatoes are even considered super foods by some.
At a time of concerns about potential food shortages resulting from this free fall economy, potatoes are easily grown year round in small lots, and can be grown in flower boxes. They are easily stored. This makes them part of the solution to potential problems.
Lots of Nutrition, Even Protein
Too much negative attention goes to the starch content and somewhat high glycemic index of potatoes, which is manageable if you’re not a diabetic.
What is ignored is that fact that potatoes contain all 22 amino acids, and their protein is complete and able to be digested and absorbed easily. Absorption of the protein from potates does not require the energy and digestive effort needed to break down the complete proteins in meat and dairy.
Potatoes are an excellent source of potassium, providing 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.
The phenolic content of potatoes levels rival that of broccoli and spinach. Others contain high amounts of folic acid, quercetin and kukoamines. Only one other food contains all three of those compounds, the highly regarded super food gogi berries. Potatoes are antioxidant dense as well.
What About the Skins?
Some claim the skins of potatoes are poisonous, even though they contain a high concentration of potatoes’ nutrients. These people are alluding to a poison inherent in the potato’s leaves and stems to ward off foraging animals and insects, the alkaloid solanine. Many plants contain such defense systems.
This skin hazard is applicable to wild potatoes. But cultivated potatoes do not have that risk unless part of the skin is green or sprouts have begun to form. When you see either budding sprouts or any green on the skin, it’s wise to avoid that whole potato, even though it takes a hefty amount of solanine to experience an immediate toxic reaction. Eating skins is otherwise highly 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. Easy storage with long shelf lives is essential for survival foods during hard times. However, it’s not a good idea to store potatoes in the refrigerator. That can cause the potatoes’ starch to become sugar.
Some health food writers have mentioned that if they had to choose only one food for survival, it would be potatoes, baked, boiled, or sautéed, but not heavily 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 potatoes an easy choice as a basic 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!
As potatoes from the New World were brought back, 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 were forced to rent small plots from Anglo-Protestant owners and grow potatoes to survive.
This is a survival clue for our currently escalating food prices and impending food shortage possibilities.
Lots of potatoes can be grown in a small area all year round and stored for long periods. And it doesn’t take too many potatoes to make a meal. Growing your own and growing with neighbors are two forms of self-sufficiency that are gradually catching on.
Learn more about growing organic potatoes here.
Sources for more information:
The World’s Healthiest Foods: Potatoes http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=48
Dr. Harris Finally Writes about Potatoes http://www.superfoodsrx.com/nutrition/nutritional-research/dr.-harris-finally-writes-about-a-potato.html
Green Potatoes are Poisonous http://www.snopes.com/food/ingredient/potato.asp
History: The Irish Potato Famine http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/historyonline/irish_potato_famine.cfm
Potatoes and Human Health Parts I, II, and III http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/