Healing and Nutritional Properties of Potatoes
Potato nutritional profile:
Diet faddists often regard potatoes with disdain, believing them to be fattening, but this accusation is not wholly justified.
It all depends on how you prepare them and what else you eat. It is true that potatoes are a rich source of carbohydrates and as such provide the body with fuel, or calories which it needs to perform its daily chores.
However, what makes them fattening is usually the fat that is used in processing them into ever popular potatoes chips or French fries. In normal quantities, eaten as part of a balanced diet, they have great nutritional benefits, though people who are on a carbohydrate restricted diet should limit their consumption of potatoes and if they do eat them, make sure that they only eat potatoes with their nutrients preserved.
Potatoes lose a great deal of their nutritional value if they are peeled before boiling, as their nutrition ends up in the cooking water, which is then discarded. Potatoes are a rich source of vitamin C, Vitamin B6, copper, potassium, manganese and tryptophan, as well as fibre.
They also contain anti-oxidant constituents, which are very valuable in protecting the body cells against a number of degenerative diseases. Most of the fiber is found in the skin. Thus, it is best to use organic potatoes that can be boiled and eaten with the skin. Industrial potatoes are treated with massive amounts of pesticides, as these varieties have become very vulnerable to all sorts of pests. When buying potatoes avoid those that are already washed as the washing process destroys their natural protective coating, making them more vulnerable to bacteria and decay.
Potatoes should be stored in a cool, dark place, but not too cold. Don’t store them in the fridge, as this turns their starches into sugar and alters their taste. Avoid exposure to sunlight, as this will encourage the potatoes to turn green and sprout, increasing their toxic alkaloid content. All green parts and the eyes should be removed before cooking. Potatoes have a tendency to oxidize quickly once they are cut and exposed to air, which will cause an unsightly discoloration. To avoid this, sprinkle them with lemon juice and cover with cold water until you are ready to use them.
Medicinal uses of potatoes:
It may come as a surprise, but potatoes are not just a ‘tummy filler’, they also have medicinal properties that may come in handy one day.
Potatoes are very alkalizing and their raw juice can be taken internally to soothe peptic ulcers and excessive acidity. However, dosage should be limited to the juice of just one good sized potato per day.
Externally, boiled potatoes to can be mashed and applied as hot as can be borne, as a poultice to aching rheumatic joints. Or, better still, mash some raw potatoes, heat them up in the oven and apply as a poultice.
Raw mashed potatoes or even just their skins can be used as a soothing and healing plaster for scalds and burns, as well as ulcers, hemorrhoids and badly healing wounds.
Mashed potatoes are a very good and easily digested food in periods of convalescence. Cardiovascular patients should eat their potatoes without salt, to benefit from their diuretic, blood pressure lowering effect.
Potatoes are also used to distill spirits, such as vodka.