The potato is often overlooked as a healthy food. But what many people don’t know is that potatoes is not only a delicious and versatile food, but it's also packed with nutrients and offer a wide range of health benefits. This humble root vegetable is packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can have incredible health benefits. In this article, we will explore some of the science-backed health benefits of potatoes that you probably didn’t know about. From improving heart health to boosting immunity and more, read on to learn more about how this humble vegetable can help you improve your health.
History of Potatoes
The potato is a vegetable that is native to the Andes region of South America. It was first domesticated by the Inca people (modern-day Peru and northwestern Bolivia) around 8,000 -5,000 BC. The potato is now the fourth largest food crop in the world, after maize, wheat, and rice. There are over 4,000 varieties of potatoes that are grown worldwide. They come in all shapes and sizes, from small red potatoes to large white ones.
The potato is a tuberous, starchy crop derived from the perennial nightshade Solanum tuberosum. The term "potato" can refer to either the plant or the edible tuber. There are some closely related cultivated potato species in the Andes, where the species is indigenous. The Spanish brought potatoes to Europe in the second half of the 16th century. They are now a staple food in many parts of the world and an important component of much of the world's food supply.
The annual diet of an average global citizen in 2010 included about 33 kg (73 lb) of potatoes. However, potency against hunger and poverty has diminished because of overreliance on a few large-scale producers due to economies of scale, leaving smallholder farmers and consumers at risk should supplies be disrupted or prices rise sharply
Health Benefits Of Potatoes
Potatoes are often thought of as being unhealthy, but they can actually be very good for you! From lowering blood pressure to improving the heart health and even treating inflammation and the resultant diseases such as rheumatism, cancer and so on.
Here are some of the incredible health benefits of potatoes you probably didn't know about:
1. Helps Treat Scurvy
Potatoes have been shown to be effective in treating scurvy 1Scurvy in the Great Irish Famine: Evidence of Vitamin C Deficiency From a Mid-19th Century Skeletal Population
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3467765/. Scurvy is a condition caused by a lack of vitamin C, and can lead to bleeding gums, fatigue, and joint pain. Potatoes are a good source of vitamin C, and consuming them can help to treat scurvy. In addition, potatoes contain other nutrients that are beneficial for overall health, such as potassium and fiber.
2. Lowers Blood Pressure
According to research, potatoes are a good source of potassium which is an important mineral nutrient for blood pressure 2Effect of potassium intake on blood pressure https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2104250/. Potassium is a vasodilator, meaning it helps to relax and widen your blood vessels. This lowers your blood pressure and allows your heart to pump blood more efficiently.
One large potato (about the size of a tennis ball) contains about 535 mg of potassium and 17.3 mg of sodium, which is estimated to be about 15 per cent of the daily recommended amount per serving. High potassium levels in the blood can cause the kidneys to discharge more salt and water, which helps to lower blood pressure in the body.
In addition to lowering blood pressure, potassium can also help to reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease. So if you're looking to make this vegetable a regular part of your diet (i.e if you have issues with high blood pressure), it is best you consult with your doctor because recent study has revealed that the effect of potatoes on high blood pressure is not clear – Although they are high in potassium, they are also high in glycemic carbohydrates!
3. Improves Heart Health
Potatoes are not only a delicious and versatile food, but they also offer incredible health benefits. One of the most significant health benefits of potatoes is that they can improve heart health 3Dietary fibre intake and risk of cardiovascular disease: systematic review and meta-analysis
Potatoes are a good source of potassium, which is an important mineral for maintaining healthy blood pressure levels. In addition, potatoes contain fiber and antioxidants that can help reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and protect against heart disease. Additionally, the nutrients in potatoes have been shown to improve blood sugar control, which is important for people with diabetes or at risk for developing diabetes.
So, if you’re looking for a tasty way to boost your heart health, add some potatoes to your diet!
4. Prevents Cancer
It's no secret that potatoes are incredibly healthy. They're packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can boost your health in different ways. But did you know that potatoes can also help prevent cancer?
Potatoes contains vitamin C 4Vitamin C
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK225480/, which has been shown to have anti-cancer properties. Vitamin C is thought to work by inhibiting the growth of cancer cells and by inducing apoptosis (cell death).
In addition to Vitamin C, potatoes also contain other compounds that may help protect against cancer. These include quercetin, kaempferol, and anthocyanins. These flavonoid antioxidants have all been shown to have anti-cancer effects in laboratory studies.
So if you're looking for a delicious way to reduce your risk of cancer, add some potatoes to your diet!
5. Reduces Inflammation
One of the incredible health benefits of potatoes is that they have anti-inflammatory properties. This means that they can help to reduce inflammation in the body, which can be beneficial for a number of different conditions.
For example, if you suffer from arthritis, potatoes can help to reduce the inflammation in your joints, which can lead to less pain and stiffness. They can also help to reduce inflammation in the gut 5Anti-inflammatory And Anti-oxidant Effects Of Potato Anthocyanins — Role Of Gut Bacteria
https://portal.nifa.usda.gov/web/crisprojectpages/1008024-anti-inflammatory-and-anti-oxidant-effects-of-potato-anthocyanins–role-of-gut-bacteria.html, which can be helpful for conditions like IBS.
Potatoes are also a good source of antioxidants, which can help to protect cells from damage and improve overall health.
6. Promotes Digestion
Potatoes are not only a delicious and versatile food, but they also have many health benefits. One of the most impressive health benefits of potatoes is their ability to promote digestion 6Digestion of polysaccharides of potato in the small intestine of man
Digestion is the process by which our bodies break down food and absorb nutrients. It is a crucial part of our overall health, and potatoes can help to keep things moving smoothly.
The fiber content in potatoes is important for digestive health as it helps to bulk up stool and keep things moving along your digestive tract. This can help to prevent constipation and other digestive issues. Additionally, the starch in potatoes is a prebiotic, meaning it feeds the good bacteria in our gut. These good bacteria are essential for a healthy digestive system.
So, if you’re looking for a nutritious food that can help you maintain a healthy digestive system, look no further than the humble potato.
7. Enhances Immunity
Potatoes are a great source of vitamins and minerals, which are essential for maintaining a healthy immune system. Vitamin C is one of the most important vitamins for immunity 7Golden Sweet Potato as Natural Immunity Booster: A review
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/354370525_Golden_Sweet_Potato_as_Natural_Immunity_Booster_A_review, and potatoes are an excellent source of this vitamin. They also contain other nutrients, such as potassium and magnesium, that are essential for maintaining a strong immune system.
8. Prevents Weight Gain
When it comes to weight loss, potatoes often get a bad rap. But the truth is, they can be a great addition to any weight loss diet. Here's why:
Potatoes contain a compound called resistant starch, which has been shown to increase satiety and reduce calorie and fat intake. It is also high in fiber which makes them an ideal food for weight loss. This means that eating potatoes can help you feel fuller for longer which can help to reduce your overall calorie intake and may even help with weight loss!
If you're looking to shed a few pounds, adding potatoes to your diet is a smart move. Just be sure to eat them in moderation and pair them with other healthy foods for best results
9. Helps Lower Blood Cholesterol
While potatoes themselves don’t contain any cholesterol, they are a great food to help lower blood cholesterol levels. The soluble fiber in potatoes helps to bind with cholesterol in the digestive tract and remove it from the body. Additionally, the potassium in potatoes can help to lower blood pressure, which can also help reduce cholesterol levels.
10. Improves Brain Health
Potatoes are not only a delicious and versatile food, but they also offer incredible health benefits. One of the most impressive benefits of potatoes is their ability to improve brain health 8Brain foods: the effects of nutrients on brain function
Studies have shown that potatoes can help improve cognitive function and protect against age-related mental decline. Potatoes are a good source of vitamin B6, which is essential for brain health. They also contain magnesium, iron, and potassium, all of which are important for healthy brain function.
In addition to their nutrient content, potatoes also contain antioxidants that can help protect the brain from damage. These antioxidants include quercetin and kaempferol, which have been shown to reduce inflammation and protect cells from damage.
Eating potatoes regularly can help keep your mind sharp as you age and may even reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia. So if you're looking for a food that's good for your body and your mind, look no further than the humble potato!
The Best Way to Eat Potatoes
When it comes to eating potatoes, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. The best way to eat potatoes depends on your individual preferences and health needs. However, there are a few general tips that can help you make the most of this delicious and nutritious food.
First, choose potatoes that are firm and free from blemishes. Avoid those with green spots or sprouts, as they may contain harmful compounds.
Next, wash your potatoes thoroughly before cooking or eating them. This will remove any dirt or bacteria that could potentially cause illness.
When it comes to cooking potatoes, there are many different methods or ways to choose from. boiling, baking, roasting, and frying are all popular options. Each method has its own set of benefits and drawbacks, so experiment until you find the one that works best for you.
Potatoes are an extremely versatile food, so feel free to get creative with your meals. Add them to soups and stews, mash them into dips or spreads, or simply enjoy them plain with a little salt and pepper. No matter how you eat them, potatoes can be a nutritious and delicious part of your diet!
From reducing inflammation to boosting heart health, potatoes can have a positive impact on your health in many ways. If you're not already incorporating this humble vegetable into your diet, we hope this article has inspired you to give them a try. Remember, as with any food, moderation is key — but when it comes to potatoes, there's no need to feel guilty about enjoying them as part of a healthy and balanced diet!
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Additional resources and citations
- 1Scurvy in the Great Irish Famine: Evidence of Vitamin C Deficiency From a Mid-19th Century Skeletal Population
- 2Effect of potassium intake on blood pressure https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2104250/
- 3Dietary fibre intake and risk of cardiovascular disease: systematic review and meta-analysis
- 4Vitamin C
- 5Anti-inflammatory And Anti-oxidant Effects Of Potato Anthocyanins — Role Of Gut Bacteria
- 6Digestion of polysaccharides of potato in the small intestine of man
- 7Golden Sweet Potato as Natural Immunity Booster: A review
- 8Brain foods: the effects of nutrients on brain function