Lets talk about our love hate relationship with potatoes.
This food staple has gotten a bad rap when it actually has a lot of health benefits. It is also very easy to grow and can feed large numbers of people relatively inexpensively. One important factor to keep in mind, is this vegetable is high on the list of genetically modified foods with is of great concern health wise.
The term potato can refer to either the plant or the entire tuber, which is rather shapeless and ugly, in most varieties. Its scientific name is Solanum tuberosum, and it is actually a member of the nightshade family. These vegetables are native to the Americas, most likely in the Andes, Peru, and Bolivia. They have been cultivated somewhere between 7,000 and 10,000 years ago in the central and south American region.
Wild potatoes still grow in some parts of the Americas, but they got introduced to other parts of the world only 400-500 years ago. These vegetables now dominate the world as the 4th largest food crop, and more than 1/3 of the world’s potatoes are actually now grown in China and India, where they represent an essential part of their cuisine, as well as the cuisine of many of their neighboring countries.
Why are these veggies good for us? Here are just a few reasons why:
Easy to Digest
Since potatoes predominantly contain carbohydrates, they are easy to digest and they also facilitate digestion. This property makes them a good diet for babies or for those who cannot digest hard food, but need energy. However, remember that eating too many of them on a regular basis may cause acidity over time. Potatoes also contain a considerable amount of fiber or roughage, which is more in raw potatoes and cold ones than boiled or hot ones. This stimulates peristaltic motion and increases secretion of gastric juices, which eases digestion and prevents conditions like constipation while protecting the body from serious conditions like colorectal cancer. Fiber is also connected with scraping cholesterol out of the arteries and blood vessels, thereby improving heart health.
There are two parts to the effect of potatoes on this condition. Vitamins like calcium and magnesium help provide relief from rheumatism. Also, water obtained from boiling potatoes can relieve the pain and inflammation of rheumatism. However, due to high starch and carbohydrate content, they tend to increase body weight which may have adverse effects on rheumatic people.
Potatoes are very effective in reducing inflammation, both internal and external. Since they are soft, easily digested, and have a lot of vitamin C (a very good antioxidant that repairs tissue wear and tear), potassium, and vitamin B6, they can relieve any inflammation in the intestines and the digestive system. They are a very good dietary element for those who have mouth ulcers as well. Therefore, people who suffer from arthritis and gout can use potatoes for their anti-inflammatory impact. However, potatoes can add to weight gain, which exacerbates these conditions, and are commonly eaten with meat and other rich foods that make gout worse, a fine balance must be struck.
Certain types of potatoes, particularly red and russet ones, contain high levels of flavonoid antioxidants and vitamin A, like zeaxanthin and carotenes, and they can protect you against many types of cancer. Also, a study at the Agricultural Research has shown that potatoes contain a compound called quercetin, which has been proven to have anti-cancer and anti-tumor properties. Finally, the high levels of vitamin A and C, both have antioxidant properties that can protect your body from the devastating effects of cancer.
Lower Blood Pressure
Since high blood pressure can occur for a number of reasons that include diabetes, tension, indigestion, nutrient balance, diet, and many others, different treatments are required. Luckily, potatoes can alleviate multiple possible causes and can be used to relieve high blood pressure due to tension. They can also treat indigestion due to an abundance of vitamin C and fiber within, but they should be avoided if the high blood pressure is a result of diabetes. The fiber present in them is helpful in lowering cholesterol and improving the functioning of insulin in the body, which aids in the lowering of blood pressure. This is because there is a direct relationship between blood pressure and the glucose level in the blood; insulin helps regulate that glucose level. Furthermore, the potassium found in potatoes (46% of daily requirement per serving) lowers blood pressure, since it functions as a vasodilator.
Try some multicolored potatoes – they come in all colors and are high in antioxidants. remember- color color color!!
Happy Healthy eating! Dana