Latin Name: Solanum tuberosum

What is a Potato?
This humble tuber is popular worldwide as a tasty and inexpensive source of protein and energy. Coming in a wide variety of tastes and textures, potatoes are grown throughout the Americas and are easily cultivated in many climates around the world. Potatoes are a major contributor to global cuisines. They can also provide feed for animals and make several kinds of alcohol. Additionally, their hearty starches have been used to make biodegradable packaging, paper, liquid thickener, textiles, and adhesives.

The origin of all potatoes can be traced back to southern Peru—although today, 99% of the world’s potatoes are from the lineage of Chilean potatoes. There are thousands of varieties of potato, many of which are intentionally interbred to increase their resistance to diseases and predators. After the lack of genetic diversity in Ireland allowed the late blight to cause one of the most disastrous crop failures in recorded history, resulting in the starvation and forced migration of millions of people, our civilization as a whole has become much more careful with this staple crop.

What are the health benefits of Potatoes?
Cooling in nature, potatoes are used by traditional Chinese medicine to treat ulcers, lubricate the intestines, promote urination, and resolve eczema and other skin lesions. A traditional remedy for heartburn is to drink a glass of potato juice.

Most famous for their high carbohydrate content, potatoes have a wide offering of other nutrients and vitamins. They are rich in vitamin C, folic acid, as well as an assortment of phytochemicals, including carotenoids and polyphenols, and health-giving compounds quercetin and kukoamines, as well as tuber storage proteins like patatin; all of these nutrients work harmoniously together to protect the body against free radicals, cardiovascular disease, respiratory problems, and many cancers.

In the body, potato’s high amount of B6 vitamin facilitates the synthesis of protein and DNA renewal needed for healing. In the brain, replenishing the body’s supply of B6 supports the regulation of serotonin (mood), melatonin (sleep), epinephrine (alertness), and both amines and GABA.

Are there any precautions for Potatoes?
As members of the nightshade family, potatoes are often discouraged in the diets of any suffering from arthritis; however, no case-controlled scientific studies confirm these observations.

Where can I find Potatoes?
Because there is such a large variety of potatoes, they can be found fresh in most grocery stores and outdoor markets throughout the year.

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This entry was posted in Foods, Natural Health Dictionary.