The potato or potato (Solanum tuberosum) is one of the main foods on the entire planet, possibly thanks to its versatility and easy cultivation.
Also, according to different investigations, it is capable of offering many health benefits. Here you can meet them and learn how to cook them to take advantage of all their nutrients.
The potato is a tuber belonging to the Solanaceae family, native to the southern part of Peru and northern Bolivia. There are records of their domestication dating back 8,000 years. With the arrival of the European conquerors to America, its consumption spread to the rest of the continents.
There are many varieties: white, black, yellow, canchán, red, paparuna, or pink, among others. However, today thousands of varieties have been developed, which as others with greater yield and adaptability appear, they are no longer used.
- Why you should eat a potato a day
In addition to being versatile to prepare all kinds of dishes, potatoes are a great source of nutrients. As reported by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) it has potassium, calcium, iron, phosphorus, vitamins A, B and C, and between 70 and 80% of its content is water. Thanks to this composition, its consumption is linked to many health benefits.
Potatoes are predominantly composed of carbohydrates, therefore, it is advisable to moderate their consumption since too much can cause heartburn. However, carbohydrates are easy to digest, so using potatoes is advised to feed babies or people with trouble processing hard foods.
They are also rich in fiber, a fundamental compound to facilitate the transit of food, stimulate the production of gastric juices, increase stool size, regulate bowel movements and prevent gastrointestinal problems such as constipation. Again, be careful, as too much can cause diarrhea.
Prevents heart problems
Potatoes are natural allies of the heart, since they have fiber, which helps eliminate the presence of “bad” cholesterol in the blood, and potassium, a mineral that acts as a natural vasodilator. Both allow to reduce the tension of the blood vessels and guarantee a correct circulation, avoiding problems such as heart attacks or cardiovascular accidents.
In addition to the important content of carbohydrates, minerals and fiber, potatoes have lutein and zeaxtin, carotenoid compounds that are beneficial for the heart.
However, its consumption in excess can alter blood glucose levels and promote overweight or obesity and affect people with diabetes. Remember to add them as a complement to a balanced and sustainable diet.
Provides protection to the skin
Phosphorous, magnesium, potassium, vitamin C and B, all are beneficial compounds for the skin that we can find in potatoes.
Traditional medicine recommends using its slices on damaged skin, especially from sunburn, or mixing its crushed raw pulp with honey to prepare masks.
There are also records on its use, or even the water used to wash its pulp, to treat rough and dry skin, such as that of the elbows and heels.
Another benefit that we can obtain from the combination of vitamin C and B, potassium and other antioxidant compounds in potatoes is to combat inflammation. For this reason, it is often referred to as an ideal option for people with gout or arthritis.
There is research that associated the consumption of potatoes with less wear of the connective tissues. In addition, due to its digestive properties it reduces the risk of the stomach or intestine becoming inflamed.
Helps to take care of mental health
Researchers report that potatoes are a great source of carbohydrates, and therefore glucose, antioxidants, Omega 3 fatty acids, and vitamins. All of these compounds are essential for maintaining good cognitive function.
Potatoes also have iron, which favors the production of red blood cells, and, together with potassium, which has vasodilator properties, stimulates blood circulation and maintains good oxygenation of the brain.
It is believed that 8,000 years ago the potato began to be domesticated. | Photo: IStock.
How to cook potatoes to take advantage of its nutrients
You can eat potatoes boiled, fried, baked, or steamed, cut into slices, cubes, batons, or mashed. However, to take full advantage of all its benefits, you should keep these tips in mind:
- Don’t peel the potatoes: the skin provides protection against the nutritional loss suffered by the potato, especially during cooking. In addition, underneath the peel are many of its minerals, vitamins and proteins, so when you peel them, you run the risk of discarding them.
- Do not cold: You may have a predilection for a certain way of cooking potatoes, but the truth is that during frying it can lose almost all its vitamin C content.
- Cook them steamed or bakedThese ways to cook them not only allow them to keep most of their nutrients, they are also excellent to enhance all their flavor.
- Reduce cookingThis does not mean that you should eat the potato raw or hard, but that you resort to certain tricks, such as boiling the water before pouring them or placing a lid, to reduce the time it takes to reach their point. During cooking the potato can lose some of its nutrients. Also choose those with a compact texture, so that it does not fall apart.
Possible side effects of potato
Although potatoes are listed as healthy options to supplement the diet, they have a very high glycemic index (a measure of how quickly a food can raise blood sugar) (80). Therefore, it is recommended that obese, overweight people who seek to control their weight or with diabetes, avoid or limit their intake.
This warning is also extended for people with kidney problems.
Specialists also point out that the green substance found under the skin of the potato and its leaves may contain arsenic, chaconine or solanine, alkaloids whose intake can lead to poisoning.
This can lead to headache, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, allergic reactions, and even be fatal.
The potato is one of the most important foods and with the greatest presence in all the diets of the world. It is also an excellent option to nourish ourselves and obtain many benefits.
Among the most studied are good digestion, cardiovascular protection, skin care, anti-inflammatory effects and better cognitive functioning.
But remember, the key to its benefits is in moderation, if consumed in excess it can cause many problems, especially for people with diabetes, overweight or kidney disease.
Sources consulted: Comprehensive Natural Medicines Database, US National Library of Medicine, US Department of Agriculture, National Institute for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.