Potato is a starchy and tuberous vegetable consumed all over the world. There are thousands of varieties of potatoes. Potatoes can be boiled, baked, roasted and fried. The potato plant is a perennial herb that grows up to a height of 2-3 feet. It has brown or purple edible underground stem (which we know as potato), bright green leaves, and white, pink or purple coloured flowers with yellow stamens. It is a native of America and grown in many other countries including hilly slopes of India.
Chemical composition: Potatoes are a rich source of carbohydrates (in the form of starch), vitamin A, B and C, minerals such as iron, potassium, magnesium and zinc, carotenoids, and phenols. Some potatoes contain toxic alkaloids solanin and chocanine.
Medical benefits: Potato is a complete food provided it is cooked in a healthy way. Boiled and baked potatoes are beneficial in many ways. Because it is starchy, it is easily digestible if taken in limited quantity.
Roasted potato with lemon and salt reduces indigestion.
Potatoes can help gain weight, which is useful for lean and weak people.
Boiled potatoes are often recommended to people suffering from kidney stones or renal problems especially since proteins and green leafy vegetables are contraindicated.
Grated potato tied on to the arthritic joints for an hour or two reduces inflammation and pain.
Applying the pulp of potato on burns has a soothing effect. It also reduces pimples, wrinkles, gives a nice glow to the skin and prevents sun burns.
Potato pulp and honey are used as face pack. Water obtained after washing potatoes can help soften the skin.
Limited quantity of potato is recommended in diarrhoea as it is a source of energy and contains many minerals.
Potatoes help maintain glucose level and prevent brain fatigue.
Potatoes also help maintain blood pressure.
Vitamin C in potatoes is useful to prevent scurvy.
Potato juice is also beneficial. The juice mixed with carrot or lemon juice is an alkaline drink which helps in gout by reducing uric acid levels. It is also used in treating rheumatism, eye problems, scurvy, digestive disorders, peptic ulcers, constipation and skin problems.
Contraindications: Excessive intake of potatoes causes indigestion, obesity and increases blood sugar. Green potatoes, leaves and fruits are toxic and cause headache, diarrhoea and muscular cramps, and therefore should not be consumed. Fried potatoes are harmful. They can cause health problems such as ulcerative colitis and obesity, raise cholesterol levels.