The Humble Potato
The humble potato unfortunately has fallen in popularity in recent years, mainly due to the interest in low carb food.
However, the vitamins, minerals, fibre and phytochemicals it provides can help ward off disease and benefit human health!
What is a potato?
The humble spud is an edible tuber that grows underground on the roots of the Solanum tuberosum plant.
They were first domesticated in the Andes in South America up to 10,000 years ago. Spanish explorers introduced them to Europe in the early 16th century.
They are relatively cheap to grow, rich in nutrients and are available in abundance throughout the year in many countries around the world. In the UK potato consumption per capita reached 66.2kg in 2020!
Potatoes are not only tasty but have several health benefits as well!
Benefits of the humble potato
The nutritional content of potatoes can vary depending on the variety and how they are prepared. For example, frying potatoes adds more calories and fat than baking them.
It is also worth noting that the skin of the potato contains a great amount of the vitamins and minerals, so peeling them can greatly reduce their nutritional content.
Here we look at 5 ways in which the potato might contribute to a healthy lifestyle, including preventing osteoporosis, maintaining heart health, and reducing the risk of infection.
- Bone health
The iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and zinc in potatoes all help the body to build and maintain bone strength and structure.
Zinc and iron play critical roles in the production and maturation of collagen – a fibre like structure that helps to make tissues strong and resilient and able to withstand stretching.
Phosphorous and calcium are both important in bone structure and essential for proper bone mineralisation.
Too much phosphorous and too little calcium result in bone loss and contribute to osteoporosis.
To develop and maintain cell membranes and increase nerve impulses, choline in potatoes can help. Choline can help with:
- Muscle movement
- Maintaining the structure of cellular membranes
- Transmitting nerve impulses
- Early brain development
- Absorption of fat
One large potato contains 57 mg of choline. Adult males need 550mg, and females 425 mg per day.
According to research, potatoes can be a good source of Vitamin C which helps in maintain immunity.
- Heart health
The potato’s fibre, potassium, Vitamin c and Vitamin B6 content, coupled with its lack of cholesterol all support heart health.
The significant amounts of fibre found in potatoes helps lower the total amount of cholesterol in the blood, thereby decreasing the risk of heart disease.
Potatoes contain folates and according to scientific journals, folates play a role in DNA synthesis and repair helping to curb the generation of cancerous cells in the body.
As a re-cap
Potatoes are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, which make them extremely healthy.
Studies have linked potatoes and their nutrients to a variety of impressive health benefits including:
- Improved bone health
- Improved blood sugar levels
- Reduced risk of heart disease
- Higher immunity
- Better digestive health
- Combat signs of aging
- Combat inflammation
- Curbs generation of cancerous cells
They are also very versatile and filling, which may combat food cravings, leading to weight loss. They are also gluten free, vegetarian and vegan which means they can be enjoyed by everyone!
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