Potatoes are considered as comfort food and it can be consumed either baked, mashed or roasted. They’re one of the staple food throughout the world as they are harvested year-round.
This crop belongs to Solanaceae or nightshade family including eggplants, tomatoes and peppers. They offer high level of satiety that’s why they’re often included in many recipes and diet.
As per the laboratory tests conducted, traditional potatoes have 12 other chemicals that can cause hormone problems, 7 reproductive toxins, 6 cancer causing substances and 7 neurotoxis. To avoid those noxious effects, it is recommended to use organic potatoes.
Potatoes that are grown organically contains the most nutrients that they supposed to have. They can be good addition to your diet, but make sure to choose the right and safe way of cooking them.
To know whether potatoes are healthy or not, it makes sense determining the health benefits that you can enjoy from them.
Health Benefits of Potatoes
Lowers blood pressure
Potatoes contain compounds called as kukoamines that initiate lowering blood pressure. There are different factors that trigger high blood pressure such as stress, poor digestion, diabetes and food content (1, 2).
This root crop has higher content of vitamin C and fiber that can lower blood pressure and help treat indigestion. Likewise, potatoes are packed with fiber that also reduces the cholesterol levels and improves your body’s insulin function.
Thus, potatoes are indeed beneficial for those people who want to drop high blood pressure.
As there are many nutritional values present in potatoes, we can say that they are also capable of treating other health conditions.
A potato can relieve inflammation in the intestines or digestive system. Anyone who has mouth ulcers should consider adding potatoes to the diet (3).
However, some people believed that potatoes can spike the symptoms of arthritis. The good thing is that the Arthritis Foundation claimed that there’s no scientific evidence regarding such hypothesis.
Promotes healthy skin
Aside from vitamin C, potatoes contain other nutrients that promotes healthy skin such as zinc, potassium, pyridoxine, phosphorus and magnesium.
These nutrients protect your skin from harmful elements caused by environmental conditions like smoke, sun and pollution. Thus, prevents acne and psoriasis.
Likewise, vitamin C enhances collagen that is helpful to smoothen wrinkles and boosts skin texture. It can also cure blemishes and pimples (4).
Applying the pulp on burns gives relief and healing. Smashed potatoes work best to soften and clean the skin particularly at the back of your hands and around elbows.
Consuming a potato regularly gives you the benefit to obtain all the nutrients that can make your skin smooth and supple.
Improves athletic performance
Potatoes have the ability to restore electrolyte balance making it helpful for those who work out or who engage in physical activities.
When an individual sweat out, most of the electrolytes are depleted. With this, it’s important to add potatoes in your diet so that the potassium and sodium depleted from your body will be replaced.
It’s essential to replenish the lost electrolytes as they are vital to different functions of your body. Otherwise, you may experience muscle cramps.
Diarrhea is a health condition that would make you dehydrated and powerless. This makes sense consuming food that contain modest amount of carbohydrate such as a potato.
It also has high content of fiber that’s why it’s easy to digest. Although potatoes can relieve diarrhea but you should eat them in moderation. Otherwise, it may give a mild laxative effect.
Build your cells
Potatoes have high content of vitamin B6. It makes this crop as a health-promoting food. This B vitamin is involved in hundreds of enzymatic reactions.
Enzymes initiate chemical reaction, thus they are active in your body. Vitamin B6 plays a big role for the synthesis of amino acids and protein.
Consuming potatoes can build new cells through the nucleic and amino acids present in vitamin B6. Likewise, the production of heme and phospholipids also depends on the presence of vitamin B6.
Enhances nervous system activity
Vitamin B6 is essential in most activities of the nervous system. It is required for the creation of amines, a neurotransmitter that transmit the messages from one nerve to another.
This neurotransmitter is necessary for the production of serotonin and lack of this neurotransmitter may lead to depression.
Other hormones that require the help of vitamin B6 are melatonin, norepinephrine and epinephrine. They are dependent to this vitamin for their production.
Thus, to increase the production of these hormones, you should add potatoes in your diet.
Supports cardiovascular health
Again, vitamin B6 is essential to a chemical process called as methylation. This process is important to ensure cardiovascular health. It changes a dangerous molecule into benign substance.
Eating foods that have higher content of vitamin B6 can reduce the homocysteine level. With this, you can integrate potatoes in your diet to prevent developing cardiovascular issues like heart disease.
Helps gain weight
Apparently, most vegetables are linked to weight loss. But, potatoes work in contrast because it helps you gain weight in a healthy way.
Potatoes have higher content of carbohydrates but low in protein. People who want to gain weight should add potatoes in their diet.
Unlike other foods that have higher amount of carbohydrates, potatoes contain B-complex and vitamin C that work in regulated absorption of carbohydrates.
In fact, many athletes include potatoes in their diet so that they have large reserve of energy needed during competition.
Foods that contain carbohydrates aid in digestion. However, you should not overeat potatoes as they may cause acidity.
Consuming raw and cold potatoes provides high content of fiber. It increases production of gastric acid and stimulates peristaltic motion, thus improves digestion.
As they promote healthy digestive tract, your body will be protected against various health conditions such as colorectal cancer.
A scurvy is a health condition caused by deficiency in vitamin C. It is manifested by bleeding and swollen gums as well as reopening of healed wounds.
This condition is very common especially to poorly nourished individuals. Eating potatoes, this disease can be prevented through the vitamin C content.
Alleviates symptoms of rheumatism
Potatoes are good for rheumatism because they are high in magnesium and calcium. A study revealed that a potato can suppress the symptoms of type II collagen-induced arthritis or CIA.
You can also use the water utilized from boiling potatoes to relieve the inflammation and the pain associated to rheumatism.
However, rheumatic people should follow a balance intake of potato to avoid increase of body weight.
Some varieties of potato have higher amount of vitamin A and flavonoid antioxidants that averts development of cancer.
The antioxidant effect of potato is higher than onions, bell peppers and carrots as per the study of the Journal of Food Science due to the presence of patatin and quercetin. This means that potato has anti-tumor and anti-cancer properties.
The presence of folate in potatoes is a great help in DNA synthesis and repair. Thus, they prevent mutations of cancer cells in the DNA.
Prevents heart disease
Other compounds present in potatoes are carotenoids including zeaxanthin and lutein. Carotenoids play big role to promote healthy heart and help the internal organs to function properly.
But, you should consume the right and recommended amount of potatoes to avoid increase in blood sugar levels that may trigger obesity and heart problem.
Boosts brain function
The oxygen supply, certain hormones, glucose level, amino acids, fatty acids and vitamin B complex are essential for proper brain function.
All those compounds are present in potatoes that positively impacts the brain function along with phosphorus and zinc.
In addition, vitamin B6 is important to maintain neurological health. It also stimulates production of useful brain chemicals like serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine.
Thus, eating potato reduces experiencing depression, stress and ADHD. It’s also important to maintain healthy level of blood sugar to ensure proper brain function.
Slight increase in the blood glucose levels will spare your brain from becoming tired, therefore boosts cognitive functions.
Other nutrients present in potatoes include iron and potassium that are linked to optimal brain function. Likewise, the vasodilating properties of potassium allows your brain to get enough blood.
Relieves depressive and premenstrual symptoms
Vitamin B6 is known to be an effective treatment for premenstrual syndrome. This condition can cause depression to an individual. Thus, consuming potato can prevent experiencing PMS and depression.
Averts kidney stone formation
If the level of uric acid in your blood is high, there’s great possibility to experience kidney stone formation.
Foods high in protein can cause this condition specifically animal protein including eggs, milk, shrimp, fish, turkey and meat.
You should also avoid foods that can increase uric acid level like raw plantains and spinach.
Iron and calcium can prevent kidney stones formation and potatoes are the best option. Magnesium also prevents accumulation of calcium in the kidney.
Having enough vitamin C in your body protects you from acquiring illnesses like common cold. It’s because vitamin C boosts immunity that is very important for overall health.
Supports better sleep
A research showed that foods having high glycemic index like potatoes, pasta, bread and white rice are helpful to promote better sleep. But, they should be eaten an hour before going to bed.
Stimulates production of red blood cells
Potatoes contain vitamin B6 that plays significant role in the production of red blood cells. It reduces the chemical homocysteine present in your body that is linked to developing degenerative diseases.
Make sure to have adequate amount of vitamin B6 to avoid developing cardiovascular disease.
Rich in choline
Choline is a versatile yet important nutrient present in potatoes. Your body can produce choline but it’s not enough that’s why you should get some choline from the food you eat.
This nutrient reduces chronic inflammation, aids in fat absorption and transmission of nerve impulses. It also improves muscle movement, memory, sleep and learning.
Potatoes Nutritional Value
Amount Per 1 Potato medium (2-1/4″ to 3-1/4″ dia) (213 g)
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 0.2 g||0%|
|Saturated fat 0.1 g||0%|
|Polyunsaturated fat 0.1 g|
|Monounsaturated fat 0 g|
|Cholesterol 0 mg||0%|
|Sodium 13 mg||0%|
|Potassium 897 mg||25%|
|Total Carbohydrate 37 g||12%|
|Dietary fiber 4.7 g||18%|
|Sugar 1.7 g|
|Protein 4.3 g||8%|
|Vitamin A||0%||Vitamin C||70%|
|Vitamin D||0%||Vitamin B-6||30%|
|*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.|
Sources include: USDA
It’s necessary to integrate potato in your diet to ensure that you can get all the nutrients present in it. Potatoes are cholesterol-free, sodium-free and fat-free, and they’re also packed with vitamins and minerals.
However, you should know the correct way of preparing potatoes to reap all the health benefits discussed above.
Janice Thompson is a nutritionist. She loves to share her healthy lifestyle and diet tips.