Potato is one of the essential crops and people also call it the ‘King of food or vegetables.’ Apart from the title, people use various names such as tater, tattie, and spud. And it is prevalent among the eaters because it doesn’t look for any particular recipe or match to dwell as a meal. It solely can be a delicious meal and also can be an essential ingredient for the other dishes. Moreover, the statistics also supports its popularity, as of 2014, potatoes were the world’s fourth-largest food crop after maize, wheat, and rice.
Well, if we look at the literal meaning, then it is a starchy, tuberous crop which is a part of Solanum tuberosum (perennial nightshade). The word ‘Potato’ came from the Spanish word ‘patata.’ Moreover, the word ‘Patata’ itself is a hybrid of the Taino batata (sweet potatoes) and the Quechua papa (potato).
Similarly, the 16th-century herbalist John Gerard has claimed sweet potatoes as ‘common potatoes’ and used the term ‘bastard potatoes’ and ‘Virginia potatoes ‘for the species that we call ‘potato’ in present time. No one has clarified the differences between these potatoes yet, but in the United States, they often called ‘Irish potatoes’ or ‘White potatoes’ to classify them from the sweet potatoes.
The first introduction of potato was during the time of 8000-5000 B.C. People first domesticated potatoes in the region of modern-day southern Peru and extreme northwestern Bolivia. After that period, it has become one of the staple crops in many countries. The most widely cultivated variety of Solanum tuberosum which is indigenous to Chiloe Archipelago and it is believed that the local indigenous people developed it before the Spanish conquest. Moreover, the potato has made a quarter of the growth in the Old-world population and urbanization between 1700-1900.
The potato was the vital energy sources for the Inca civilization and its predecessors along with the Spanish successor. As a part of the Columbian exchange, the Spanish introduced the potato to Europe in the second half of the 16th century. Then slowly, the staple was conveyed by European mariners to territories and ports throughout the world. And it became one the critical food staple and field crop in the European 19th-century population boom. Following the trend, now there are over 5,000 different types of potatoes. And it hasn’t stopped on any particular criteria because its importance as a food source and culinary ingredient is still changing.
The popularity of potato is especially evident in the eastern and central part of Europe, where the per capita production is still the highest in the world. Similarly, over the past few decades, the rapid expansion of output is seen over in the southern and eastern Asia, including India and China leading in the world. As mentioned earlier, potatoes have almost over 5,000 varieties all over the world. There are about 200 wild species and subspecies of potatoes.
If we look at the statistics then in the year 2016 potatoes production worldwide was 377 million tons. The production was mostly carried out in China in the lead and India, Russia, Ukraine, United States following. And one of the main reasons why potatoes are very popular is its taste, versatility, history and how it has taken a role in the urbanization. Moreover, it can adapt to any diverse climates as long as it is cold and moist enough for the plants to get water from the soil to create a starchy tuber.
NUTRITION FACTS OF POTATO
Potato is generally eaten boiled, baked and or fried and also served as a snack. So, the nutritional fact of potato differs on its transformation as a meal with particular heat. Well, firstly when the potato is raw, the nutritional value is different like the water is 79%, carbohydrate 88% along with starch, protein 2% and fat with the somewhat negligible amount.
The exact 100 grams of raw potato offers 77 kilocalories of energy, 23% vitamin B6, 24% vitamin C whereas if you cook it the number of nutrition shifts a little bit, the calories 87, water 77 %, protein 1.9 grams, carbs 20.1 grams, sugar 0.9 grams, fiber 1.8 grams, fat 0.1 grams. It’s safe to say that the potato has almost no fats. However, in the rating of the Glycemic Index (G.I.), potato is considered to have a high G.I. level due to which some people exclude it from their daily diet.
Potatoes are famous for their carbs because it is mostly composed of it. And these carbs are primarily existent in the form of starch. The carb present in the potato ranges from 66% to 90% of dry weight. Similarly, the sugars like glucose, fructose, sucrose are also there in small amounts in a potato. And due to the high level of GI (Glycemic Index), the people with diabetes avoid eating them. Well, if you cool the potato after cooking, it can lower down the G.I. level and lessen the effect of blood sugar by over 25-26 %.
In comparison to the carbs present in potato, fibers are quite less. However, the people who consume the potato daily will undoubtedly be having a significant amount of fibers from the potato. And the skin of the potato has 1-2 % of the fibers which is quite high moreover the dried skins are about 50% of fiber. The fiber present in the potato is cellulose, pectin, and hemicellulose.
Potato contains resistant starch which is also believed to feed the friendly bacteria in the human gut and improve digestive health. The resistant starch can also help in the control of blood sugar, which rises after your consumption of a meal. So at first cook the potatoes and let them cool and have them, as they offer higher amounts of resistant starch. Moreover, for the people who want to lose their weight, potato can be an option. When you consume it, dietary fiber of the potato makes you feel full for a longer time.
Potato contains low protein, but the quality of the significant amount in the potato is of high-quality. The range of protein in the potato is around 1-1.5% when it is fresh, whereas the range differs in 8-9 % of the protein in dry weight. The protein found in the potato is named ‘patatin.’ Although the low presence of protein in the potato compared to wheat, rice, and corn, the quality of the existing protein is higher than the soybeans and other legumes. And also, one of the interesting facts is that the main protein’ patatin’ can cause some allergic reactions in some people.
VITAMINS AND MINERALS
Potatoes are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals. The potassium, folate, vitamin B6, and vitamin C are the vital elements in the composition of potato. And also, if you cook, the level of the vitamin and minerals tend to reduce.ooked. So you can always have them baked or boil it with the skin on which will gradually minimize the reduction in the vitamins and minerals. The Potassium present in the skin of the potato is very beneficial for the people who are suffering from heart disease.
Similarly, Vitamin C is also one of the primary vitamins found in the potato, but while you cook it, you will lose the quantity of vitamin. So, you need to boil it with the skin on so that it can lower the reduction of vitamin C in the potato and you can benefit from as it helps in preventing the cellular damage. Others are the folate which can be found in potatoes with colored flesh along with that the potato also has Vitamin B6, which helps in the red blood cell formation. So, as you can see, potatoes are way healthier and beneficial than we had imagined. And also, it offers 6 % of the recommended daily value of iron.
Most of don’t know the value of the potatoes skin, so we tend to peel it whenever we consume it. But in reality, potatoes skin is rich in bioactive plant compounds which re-found in concentrated form. And as the skin has those plant compounds, the color of the skin also differs the compounds present in it. Like if the potato’s skin is purple or red, then the flesh contains the highest number of polyphenols, which is a kind of antioxidant. If we look deeply into the plant compounds of potato, then we can find chlorogenic acid. The chlorogenic acid is the primary polyphenol in potatoes.
A higher range of catechin is also present in the potato with purple skin, which is an antioxidant that accounts almost 1/3 of polyphenol in total. Another is lutein, a carotenoid antioxidant that can be found in potatoes with a yellow flesh and it is known to boost the eye health. Potatoes also produce a class of toxic phytonutrients called Glycoalkaloids which is a natural defense against insects and other threats.
HOW TO GROW
Potato one of the favorite versatile foods worldwide that you can eat in various forms. Being delicious for the people to consume won’t it be fun if you can grow the plant in your garden or farm and enjoy it. Well, that sounds fun, so why not know how you can cultivate the potato. You can plant the potato after the last spring frost. You can also plant it during April, or some may go for June. Here are some steps and information on how you can grow them:
- In your garden, get some hoe and dig a trench about 6 inches wide and 8 inches deep. Please plant it in a row as it grows best in rows so space the rows about 3 feet’s apart. When you plant the potato, make sure you don’t plant it in the soil which has the pH higher than 5.2 as potatoes like acidic soil.
- Before you plant the potato add some rotted manure or organic compost, then spread and mix it in the bottom of the trench. Place the seed potato piece in the trench. You need to cut side down, every 12 to 14 inches and cover it 3 to 4 inches of soil. But you need to careful during the planting process as you can’t be confused on the seed potatoes with potato seeds or grocery produce. And the best starters in planting are seed potatoes from which the buds protrude. Divide the potatoes into two pieces and make sure there are two buds in each section. You should also make sure that the exposure of sunlight it avoided in the tubers, and it can make them turn green.
- After you have planted the potatoes, sprouts will appear in 12 to 16 days. Now use a hoe and fill the trench with another 3 to 4 inches of soil letting few inches of plants exposed. You need to repeat it for following weeks making the soil be mounded up to 4 to 5 inches above ground level. This task is often called hilling and morning time is the best time for the job when plants are at their tallest. Similarly, the hilling keeps the potatoes from getting sunburned that can cause them to turn green, which produces solanine chemical; it gives away the bitter taste. And with some time, the potato plants will emerge. Add organic mulch between the rows to keep the moisture in the soil, letting it be cold and also help in the weed control.
- You need to water the plant in proper proportion. You need to make sure it has the watering of 1 to 2 inches per week. If the watering is over-done right after the planting process, then it can affect the growth of the plant. Not only that if the plant doesn’t have sufficient water, but then it will also affect the plant’s development. Well, that’s not all, the potato can be affected by the Colorado potato beetles that can feed on the potato plant. For that, they can be controlled by Diatomaceous Earth a non-toxic way to control pests in the garden. You can also use organic pesticide or a few sprays of Spinosad, which will get rid of the beetles from the plant.
- You can harvest smaller potatoes with tender skin 2 to 3 weeks after the plants stop flowering. Whereas the mature potatoes are ready for harvest in 2 to 3 weeks after the foliage has died. And also, when you have the new potatoes harvested, it should not be cured and consumed within a few days of harvest. You should dig the potatoes on a dry day and make sure not to puncture those tubers. You should avoid the cutting and bruising of the potato skin.
- Store the fresh potatoes in a cool and dry place for up to 2 weeks as this will allow the potato’s skin to cure and help them to keep for longer. Following that cure the potato and after that make sure you brush off the soil clinging on the potato’s skin. Then store them in a cold and humid place but not in the refrigerator. And also, only wash them right before you use it because washing them shortens their life span.
Potatoes are undoubtedly perfect for our health if appropriately consumed in the correct form of meal. And most importantly, it has various health benefits. The health benefits that potato offers are below:
- One of the main reasons of potato being healthy is that it is rich in nutrients and vitamins.
- Potato has compounds like flavonoids, carotenoids, phenolic acids, which acts as antioxidants in the body. Moreover, the colored potatoes have three to more times of the presence of the antioxidants than white potatoes, which makes it more effective in neutralizing free radicals. The antioxidants suppress the colon cancer cells and also reduce the risk of chronic disease like heart disease, diabetes.
- When you eat potato, you consume the resistant starch too, which reaches the large intestine. That becomes a great source of nutrient for the beneficial bacteria in your gut. The resistant starch reduces the insulin resistance by 33%, which eventually improves in the blood sugar control.
- The starch in potato converts into the short-chain fatty acid butyrate. The butyrate helps in the reduction of the colon and strengthens its defenses, which eventually lowers the risk of colorectal cancer. Moreover, it also allows people who have inflammatory bowel disorders like ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease.
- Potato is a gluten-free crop naturally, and as you know, a gluten-free diet is pretty popular. As most of the people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, the gluten-free diet is essential. So, potato can be an excellent choice for them having the gluten-free diet. However, some potato recipes contain gluten so better have look-out on that.
- One study has shown that potato contains proteinase inhibitor 2 (PI2) that can curb appetite. It releases a hormone named cholecystokinin (CCK), which promotes the feeling of fullness. This feeling helps you regulate or lose weight as they curb hunger pain.
- Potatoes are healthy, delicious and offer the variety that you may not find in any meal. So you can consume it and enjoy it along with the nutrients that are intact with the potato.
Despite being delicious, healthy, and nutritious, potatoes have some side effects too. And as every crop or plant consists some plant compounds, minerals, antioxidants, etc. So, some of the side effects of consumption of potato are below:
- One of the critical conditions that people suffer sometimes is allergies. Well, it can be of food, animals or anything. Likewise, people may suffer from potato allergy, which is a food allergy condition that is relatively very rare. It is due to the protein found in potato. So, potato can harm such individual who carries such a state.
- Potatoes contain a class of toxic phytonutrients called glycoalkaloids. Well, in some instances the glycoalkaloids poisoning after eating potatoes is seen. And if there is a low dose of glycoalkaloids, then it can cause headache, stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. Whereas, in case of high dose, it can cause neurological disorders, fever, fast heartbeat, rapid breathing, and low blood pressure. However, the condition is rare, but if such occurs, it can go undiagnosed.
- The level of glycoalkaloids is high in the peel and sprouts compared to the other part of the potato. The potato with glycoalkaloids in a high amount taste bitter, and you will feel a burning sensation in your mouth. So, you need to avoid eating potato sprouts.
- Potato has acrylamides contaminants that make it carb-rich food when you cook, bake, or fry it. And compared to other food, french fries, potato chips are having a high level of acrylamides. One study has shown that a high number of acrylamides can increase cancer risk in breast, kidneys, mouth, etc. And It can also have an adverse effect over time, so you need to avoid frying and baking the potatoes.
- One of the significant side effects of potato is its contribution to obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. French fries and potato chips contains a high level of fat in it. And this eventually adds up to the weight gain, which can lead to obesity and many diseases.
- Moreover, it also contains acrylamides, glycoalkaloids, and high amount of salt that can cause serious harm to human health.
FAMOUS RECIPE OF POTATO
One of the famous recipes of potato you must try is Dill and Potato Cakes.
DILL AND POTATO CAKES
This delicious potato recipe is very simple to cook and savory in flavor. You can have it at dinner time or even at breakfast. You will need the following ingredients for the Dill and Potato Cake:
- One cup self-rising flour
- Two tablespoon butter
- Softened salt to have the taste in the meal
- One tablespoon of fresh chopped dill
- Two cups of freshly mashed or leftover potatoes
- 1/8 to 1/4 cup of milk as required
- Preheat the oven to 4000.
- Get a bowl and sift the flour into it then add the butter, salt, and dill.
- Mix it well. Mash the potatoes and add appropriate milk to it so that you can blend the ingredients easily.
- Mix it well, when all the ingredients are together until you form a soft dough of it.
- So, when the dough is ready, make round cakes with your hands. Make the size about 3 inches in diameter and ½ inch thick.
- Put all the cakes into the greased baking tray as long as the cakes all fit in there.
- Bake it for 20 to 25 minutes until the cake’s color turns golden and serve it warm in the plate.
- Enjoy the meal with your family and friends with this recipe. You can make almost 25 cakes in once with this recipe and measurement of ingredients.