There may be some confusion with potato being a vegetable or fruit because others that may be considered as vegetables such as eggplants and tomatoes are actually fruits. You may be classifying the food products depending on the type of taste that they can give but eggplants and tomatoes are considered to be fruits because they have seeds. The potato is a vegetable because it does not contain any seeds.
The term “potato” refers either to the edible tuber or the plant itself. One of the most eaten vegetables, potato is a tuberous crop from the Nightshade or Solanaceous family. They grow on the roots of a plant called Solanum tuberosum and are related to tomatoes. In fact, potatoes and tomatoes can share not only insect problems but also diseases.
Vegetables are categorized into five groups: dark green vegetables, orange and red vegetables, starchy vegetables, legumes, and other vegetables.
Potatoes fall into the category of starchy vegetable alongside green peas, corn and lima beans. In addition to its high starchy carbohydrate, potatoes also contain fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. They can be a great alternative to pasta, bread, rice and other grains.
Aside from its 80% water content, potatoes are composed of carbs and contain moderate amounts of fiber and protein, but almost no fat. Eating potatoes with a protein source like chicken, fish or meat and non-starchy vegetables make an excellent nutritious meal.
Tomato-like Fruits on Potato
Gardeners are surprised to see small, tomato-like fruit on potato plants, but these fruits are not caused by cross-pollination with tomatoes. Those are the true fruits of a potato plant, each containing around 300 seeds.
During the end of growing season, potato plants produce flowers. Most of them fall off without bearing fruits, but in some varieties like “Yukon Gold,” they produce fruits that resemble green tomatoes.
The tomato-like fruits on potatoes and the plant itself are not edible as they contain high amounts of solanine, which is a poisonous alkaloid. Solanine can also be found in potatoes left in the sun and turned green. Consuming plant parts may cause abdominal pain, diarrhea, headache, and shock.
Even if you plant the seeds inside the potato fruit, you will not achieve the same kind of potatoes. If you have small children around, make sure that you dispose of potato fruits.
Health Benefits of Potatoes
Potatoes are grown in cool climates and are one of the most important staple foods for centuries. When you pick up a potato, you will notice tiny roots on it. This is because potatoes are actually a stem. They are often thought of as roots as they grow underground, but they are thickened part of stems called tubers.
Potatoes have a lot of nutrients and energy, including essential organic compounds, vitamins, and minerals. Eating potatoes regularly gives you a good supply of ions and water in your system as they are rich in potassium. Here are the health benefits of potatoes.
1. Improve Brain Function
The proper functioning of the brain is based mostly on oxygen supply, glucose level, components of vitamin-B complex, and fatty acids, amino acids and certain hormones. Potato provides almost all the requirements as they contain high levels of carbohydrates and thus help in maintaining glucose levels. This improves the cognitive function and brain performance.
Also, the brain and other organs need oxygen. The hemoglobin in the blood carries oxygen to the brain and its main constituent is iron. Fortunately, potatoes contain iron and help in delivering oxygen to various organs of the body. There are also nutrients in this vegetable that can stimulate brain function.
2. Reduce Internal and External Inflammation
Potatoes are highly effective in alleviating inflammation, both external and internal. Because it is soft, you can easily digest it. Potatoes contain vitamin C, which is a good antioxidant that helps in repairing cells and tissue. The vitamin-B6 and potassium in potato can alleviate any inflammation in the digestive tract, making it an ideal meal for those who have ulcer and arthritis.
3. Prevent Kidney Stones
Also known as Renal Calculi, kidney stones occur when the urine, which contains calcium, uric acid and oxalate, start forming crystal substances. This also occurs when the urine lacks substances that prevent the formation of crystals. In case of increased levels of uric acid, foods rich in protein should be avoided, including meat, fish, shrimp, turkey, milk, eggs, plantain, spinach and certain beans. Potatoes contain magnesium which prevents the accumulation of calcium in the kidney.
4. Promote Weight Gain
For those who are excessively thin or lean, potatoes make an ideal diet to gain weight. Primarily composed of carbohydrates, potatoes also contain vitamin B-complex and vitamin C that helps the body in absorbing carbohydrates. It is also rich in fiber that can help you achieve your desired weight. It is best to keep the skin on to reap all the benefits.
Many athletes and sumo wrestlers include large amounts of potatoes in their diets as this delicious vegetable allows them to store energy for competitions. This vegetable has been described as a win-win food source due to high content of potassium and sodium.
5. Treat Rheumatism
Raw potato juice can help in alleviating the pain and discomfort associated with rheumatism. Potatoes contain magnesium and calcium that help in alleviating the symptoms. However, high levels of carbohydrates and starch may contribute to weight gain and may have adverse effects.
When suffering from arthritis, it is best to avoid eating potatoes but simply consume the water obtained from boiled potatoes.
6. Help Lower Blood Pressure
For most adults, hypertension or high blood pressure develops slowly over many years. Some people have high blood pressure due to another health condition, such as kidney problems, obstructive sleep apnea, certain medications and thyroid problems. It can also be caused by indigestion, diabetes, nutrient balance and tension.
Potatoes can help in relieving hypertension caused by tension. This vegetable can also alleviate the symptoms of indigestion due to its fiber and vitamin-C content. Fiber helps in reducing the level of cholesterol and enhances insulin function, which aids in alleviating hypertension. However, potatoes should be avoided if you have blood pressure caused by diabetes.
7. Prevent Heart Disease
In addition to minerals, vitamins, and roughage, potatoes also have carotenoids compounds, such as zeaxanthin and lutein. These compounds are important to cardiovascular health and proper functions of other vital organs. However, consuming too many potatoes may raise the level of glucose and cause obesity. Therefore, people who are obese or diabetic should not use this method in preventing heart ailments.
Potato’s vitamin B6, vitamin C, fiber, and potassium promote heart health. Vitamin B6 helps in the methylation process, which transforms homocysteine into methionine. High levels of homocysteine are associated with high-risk stroke and heart attacks
8. Strengthen Immune System
Potatoes are rich in vitamin C, which can boost immune system and help prevent various health problems. One serving of potatoes will give you 46 percent of daily recommended intake of this vitamin.
Vitamin C and zinc, a mineral that is also present in potatoes, lower the risk of pneumonia, malaria and diarrhea infections.
9. Prevent Scurvy
Vitamin C deficiency is the main cause of scurvy . The symptoms of scurvy include severe joint pain, swollen or bleeding gums, fatigue, pain in limbs, and appearance of red-blue spots on the skin. It was a very common disease among malnourished sailors until the end of the 18th century.
Potatoes are rich in vitamin C and can help in preventing scurvy and other diseases related to vitamin C deficiency.
10. Promote Stronger Bones
Potatoes contain calcium, iron, phosphorus, zinc and magnesium that contribute to bone building and maintenance. Iron and zinc play important roles in the production of collagen. The careful balance of calcium and phosphorus is important for bone mineralization. This means that under-consumption of calcium and overconsumption of phosphorus can affect bone homeostasis negatively and may result in bone loss.
Potatoes are a type of starchy vegetable. Without question, they’re one of the most important food sources as they contain numerous health benefits. Including potatoes in your daily meal improves digestion, lower cholesterol levels, boost immune system, reduce blood pressure, and promote heart health. It may also be useful for people trying to gain weight.
Potatoes are sodium-free, fat-free, and cholesterol-free. They contain potassium, vitamin C, vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients. Eating with skins on let you reap all the benefits of potatoes. Keep in mind that your preparation determines the number of health benefits you take, so instead of loading them with unnecessary fat and calories, incorporate potatoes with other healthy ingredients. Few of these benefits apply to French fries and potato chips.