One of the most delicious pantry ingredients is the potato, which adds crunch to our meals in the shape of chips and fries, fluffiness to mashed potatoes, and creaminess to potato soup, among many other hearty dishes. The versatility of the starchy potato, which takes center stage in various cuisines while supporting foods like stews and salads, is one of its best qualities. Cooked potatoes are a common addition to salads, side dishes, and entrees. However, eating raw potatoes is not nearly as prevalent because they are frequently seen as less delicious and difficult to digest.
Some people love eating undercooked, raw potatoes (as one would an apple). They might even claim that boiling potatoes renders them less nutritious. So, can you eat raw potatoes, and if so, is it preferable to cook them? Potatoes can indeed be eaten raw. Even while you can, it doesn’t necessarily follow that you should. Raw potatoes’ harsh flavor and chalky, starchy texture make them unpleasant to most people. Despite not necessarily being harmful, eating raw potatoes could induce digestive issues. This post will examine why consuming raw potatoes might not be a good idea.
Potato Nutrition Facts
What is Exactly Potato?
The starchy edible tuber known as the potato is native to South America and grown worldwide. Over 1,000 kinds of tuber, domesticated for over 10,000 years, are known, albeit only a tiny portion of them are commercially grown. Since their introduction to Europe in the 1600s, they have played a significant part in the histories and cultures of many South American nations and have been incorporated into European cuisine.
Around 8,000 BCE, the wild potato was first domesticated. Native Americans farmed many cultivars, and the tuber quickly replaced corn as a primary diet. European explorers in South America initially encountered potatoes, bringing the crop samples back to Europe. Given that the plants, along with eggplants and tomatoes, are members of the nightshade family, it was first challenging to introduce them to the garden. Because nightshade plants can be harmful in some parts, European farmers first had doubts about this meal. But once it was successfully grown in test areas, it was a welcome addition to the European diet.
Can you Eat Raw Potatoes?
The term “raw potatoes” refers to any potatoes that have not been adequately cooked, whether through baking, boiling, or another popular method of preparing these well-known stem vegetables. While eating raw vegetables is very popular worldwide, eating raw potatoes is less prevalent. Raw potatoes are abundant in dietary fiber, calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, vitamin C, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, and vitamin B12, according to the USDA National Nutrient Database.
Benefits of Eating Raw Potatoes
Both raw and cooked potatoes have similar nutrient profiles, and eating potatoes in any form has some clear health advantages. Benefits comprise:
Rich Source of Vitamin C
Although eating cooked potatoes is pleasant, they are less nutrient-dense than eating them raw. In comparison to roasted potatoes, raw potatoes have fewer calories and proteins. However, they are also a good source of other micronutrients, like vitamin C. For those unaware, vitamin C is a crucial antioxidant and water-soluble nutrient necessary for everything from collagen creation to immunological function.
To determine the overall impact of boiling and frying on the vitamin C content of raw potatoes, a team of researchers from Nigeria, Africa, conducted a study in the Nigerian Food Journal. Irish potatoes lost vitamin C when they were boiled and fried, respectively. Furthermore, eating raw potatoes will help you meet your recommended daily intake of fiber.
High in Fiber and Carbohydrates
According to a study by a group of scientists from Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India, one large potato with the skin has around 9 grams of fiber according to an article published in the Journal of Medicinal Plants Studies. According to the American Heart Association, foods with high soluble fiber, such as raw potatoes, can help lower your LDL or “bad” cholesterol levels. Additionally, it contains a lot of carbs.
One sizeable raw potato with skin contains roughly 58 grams of carbohydrates while also being low in fat and calories, according to a thorough analysis by Dr. Katherine A. Beals of the University of Utah. This makes it a must-have food item in your diet chart if you wish to shed those extra pounds. However, this cannot be stated for fried or boiled potatoes, which include more starch.
According to a study by Spanish scientists published in the Journal of Nutrition, the root vegetable may also benefit the complete immune system. The scientists found that growing pigs that consumed a lot of raw potato starch had better bowel movements. Furthermore, they found that the pigs administered raw potato starch had lower blood levels of white blood cells such as leucocytes and lymphocytes. The researchers concluded that this decrease in leucocyte regulation resulted in a healthier body.
According to the USDA and several studies, potatoes are a good source of vitamin C. This vitamin is also well-known for its advantages, which include enhancing immune system health and defending the body against infections. However, more research and scientific proof are needed to support this assertion.
Lowers Blood Pressure
When we think of potatoes, the first thing that typically comes to mind is that they are fatty food that should be avoided by people who care about their health. Contrary to popular belief, a potato has only 110 calories and a ton of beneficial phytochemicals and vitamins, according to a study presented by Dr. Joe Vinson, a professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania, at the 242nd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS).
Eighteen participants, most of whom were obese with high blood pressure, participated in the new study. They were given 6-8 purple potatoes, each about the size of a golf ball, to consume while checking their blood pressure. According to the study, eating potatoes may have lowered blood pressure without affecting weight.
Rich in Resistant Starch
Resistant starch, different from the regular starch that your body absorbs or digests, is abundant in raw potatoes. On the other side, it gives your beneficial gut flora energy. Due to its numerous health advantages, resistant starch must be a part of your diet. Dr. Mindy Patterson-Maziarz and colleagues claim that raw potatoes can significantly reduce weight, especially in obese individuals, and enhance insulin sensitivity by lowering blood sugar levels.
The scientists discovered that this resistant starch is converted into butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid that can improve digestion and gut health. Additionally, it was mentioned that this short-chain fatty acid could lessen and manage colon inflammation, which might aid in halting the spread of colon cancer.
Risks of Eating Raw Potatoes
Here are some risks also of eating raw potatoes:
Gas and Bloating
According to studies, eating too many raw potatoes might result in digestive problems like indigestion, gas, and bloating because the partially digested potatoes start to ferment in the gut. In their investigation, a group of scientists led by Revina TA et al. discovered that potatoes contain antinutrients like protein trypsin inhibitors and lectins, making it harder for the body to digest and absorb the nutrients. Additionally, according to the study, eating raw potatoes increases the chance of developing gastrointestinal disorders, which heating may prevent.
Because the starch in potatoes is likely to cause a considerable increase in blood sugar levels, it is advised that pregnant women avoid them, especially those who are overweight or have a history of insulin resistance. A team of US researchers found a strong correlation between eating potatoes before getting pregnant and the chance of developing gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). More than 21,000 women from the Nurses’ Health Study II (1991–2001) who had no prior history of GDM or any other chronic illness participated.
Green Potatoes – High Toxicity
After being sunlight, potatoes develop chlorophyll, the green pigment that gives plants and algae their color. Yellow-brown potatoes turn green when they have light skin. While sunlight contributes to the production of chlorophyll, it also helps create a substance that shields the plant from harm caused by insects, fungi, bacteria, or hungry animals. However, ingesting these substances may be hazardous to a person’s health.
In a study published in the Journal of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Dr. Lachman J., Dr. Hamouz, et al., Ceska Zemedelska University, Prague-Suchdol (Czech Republic), found that potatoes produce a toxin called solanine that works by impeding an enzyme that is essential for breaking down specific neurotransmitters. The study also harms cell membranes, negatively impacting the intestine’s capacity to absorb food and nutrients.
What Potatoes should I Buy?
The variety of potatoes is astounding; the International Potato Center in Peru has saved nearly 5,000 different types. But generally speaking, your neighborhood grocery shop is likely to carry a few primary varieties, each suitable for a variety of preparations:
- Floury: Floury varieties like russets and Idahos, which are relatively low in moisture and heavy in starch and have dark, matte skins, cook up light, fluffy, and somewhat crumbly, making them perfect for a traditional baked potato or a smooth, creamy mash. Due to their starchiness, these potatoes also work well for fried dishes like crunchy outside and creamy inside french fries and potato pancakes.
- Waxy: Waxy potatoes typically feature flesh that is thick, moister, and lower in starch than their floury counterparts, as well as skin that is often thinner and glossier. This group includes many smaller, cuter types, Red Bliss, young potatoes, fingerlings, and others. These retain their shape nicely when cooked and are ideal for dishes where that is important, such as potato salad, gratin, roasted potatoes, and traditional boiled and buttery potatoes.
- All-Purpose: Said, Canadian Gold. Other floury-waxy hybrids have also been produced to be in the middle, like this illustrious type. They are the perfect potato—not too dense, not too crumbly, and adaptable enough to fit in virtually any recipe. Scald them. Mix them up. Cook them. Stir-fried them. These potatoes can handle anything.
Raw potatoes may contain more antinutrients and toxic substances and are more prone to cause digestive problems. However, they include higher levels of resistant starch and vitamin C, which may provide significant health advantages. Potatoes—both cooked and raw—can be eaten in moderation as a component of a nutritious diet. Follow safe food preparation procedures and basic food handling precautions.
Whatever method you use to consume your potatoes, make sure to thoroughly wash them, store them properly, and eat a variety of other fruits and vegetables to balance your diet. Uncooked potatoes lack a lot of flavor and texture appeal. Potatoes have a somewhat gritty texture when eaten fresh; cooking decreases the starch ether starches them soft.