Every story has a main character. The whole story is built around him. Can vegetables have a story? Can there be a hero for such a story as well?
It absolutely happens and that hero is none other than our favourite vegetable ‘Potato’.
For us Indians, potato is nothing less than 'King of Vegetables'. From morning to evening and from breakfast to dinner the some potato recipe keeps on beautifying our plate.
But if I say that this favourite vegetable of our kitchen is a foreign guest, would you believe it? Yes, believe me. It is a reality. So let's uncover the history of potato and some interesting facts related to it.
History of potatoes
According to scientists, many years ago, around 7000 BC, remnants of potato production were found in Peru and Boulevia, countries of the American continent. Potatoes were the staple food of Native Americans for many years.
In the 16th century, Spain, a European country, began transporting potatoes from its American colonies to throughout Europian countries. Once the potato reached Europe it rapidly became one of the favourite vegetables there.
Around this time, Britain expanded its colonies to Asian countries and especially to India. Then Britain brought potatoes to India for the first time. Since then potato has become an integral part of our daily diet.
The main reason for potato being so famous in the whole world was its cheap price and nutritional value which was a major priority for poor countries and the public.
So in this way the an American potato reached all over the world.
Potato nutritional value
If we take 150 grams of potatoes as standard, then in this,
27 mg of Vitamin C is available which is 30% of our daily usage. Vitamin C is necessary to increase the amount of antioxidants in our body which increases our immunity.
620 mg of potassium is available which is 15% of our daily usage.It is equivalent to the potassium in medium size bananas. Potassium is important for our muscles.
0.2 mg vitamin B6 is available which is 10% of our daily usage. Vitamin B6 is beneficial for the skin and red blood cells.
26 mg of carbohydrate is available which is 9% of our daily usage. Carbohydrate is a major source of body energy.
Other than that, It also contains iron and fiber in it which is good for digestion.
Importance of Potato in India
Even though potato was brought to India from abroad at some time, it is a major Indian crop today. India is the second largest potato producing country after China. In 1949, the Central Potato Research Institute was established in Shimla. Potato production in India has increased 34-fold in the last seven decades.
Can Potatoes Be Toxic?
Potato is a plant of the 'Nightshade' species. Like potatoes, tomatoes and eggplants also come from this species. A poisonous element called Solanine is found in the plants of the species. Actually, Solanine is found in green parts like leaves, stems of the plant and protect the plants from insects. For this reason, potato leaves, stem or any green skin should not be used as food.
But the good thing is that sun is needed for the formation of Solanine and hence this toxic element is found only in the stems and leaves and negligible amount is present in the potato which is in the roots.
How to remove solanine from potatoes?
Potatoes are highly nutritious, so we should not stop consuming them due to Solanine. We should take care that we do not use potato leaves, stem, potato eye or any green part of it in our food. By peeling the green skin off, the remaining potato is completely safe to consume. And even if Solanine reaches our body in small amounts, our body is able to resist it.
Top Potato Myths
- Sweet potato is more nutritious than plain potato
Sweet potato is also a variety of potato. Many people believe that sweet potato is more nutritious than plain potato. Actually both have their own characteristics. Sweet potato is a source of vitamin A and fiber and plain potatoes are a good source of iron and manganese.
- Eating potatoes increases weight because it contains carbohydrates.
There is no scientific evidence that says the carbohydrates are the cause of body weight gain. Carbohydrate is the only source for brain's energy. In this way, potato is also important for our brain as well.
- Potatoes have nutrients on their skin.
This is also a prevalent confusion. Actually, by removing the outer skin, the fiber content remains half in the potato. But elements like potassium, vitamin C are found inside only. So in that way we still get most of the nutrients even after peeling it.
Article key point
- Potato was produced even before 7000 BC.
- The British brought potatoes with them to India.
- Potatoes contain large amounts of vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium, carbohydrates.
- India is the second largest potato producing country.
- Potato leaves, stems, eyes and green parts contain a toxic element called Solanine. Therefore, these parts should not be used in food.
- Center for Disease Control, Economic Research Service, USDA, Vegetables and Specialties Situation and Outlook Yearbook, 2008; CDC 2008
- Farm picture By Robert Müller - www.dhm.de, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3754769