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Potato (Aloo): Uses, Benefits, Side Effects and More!

By Dr Smita Barode +2 more

Introduction: 

The humble potato, scientifically known as Solanum tuberosum L., belongs to the family Solanaceae. Potatoes are the fourth most important food crop in the world. It grows in all temperate regions and warm, humid tropical lowlands of Asian countries. Although it might seem that potato belongs to us Indians, but in reality, it has its origins in the Andean mountain region of South America, mainly in Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Chile and Colombia. Potatoes are primarily produced in countries such as China, India, the USA, Russia and Ukraine.1 

potato benefits

There are around five thousand varieties of potatoes, ranging in size, shape, colour, starch content and flavour. Some of the varieties of potatoes are known as Russet Burbank, the White Rose, the Katahdin, Red LeSoda and Red Pontiac.1 

Did you know?

  • Potatoes are a rich source of potassium, which is essential for maintaining healthy blood pressure levels. source: heart.org
  • Consuming potatoes with the skin on can increase your intake of dietary fiber. source: choosemyplate.gov
  • Potatoes are a good source of vitamin B6, which plays a crucial role in brain development and function. source: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
  • Potatoes are a good source of complex carbohydrates, which provide sustained energy throughout the day. source: nutritionvalue.org
  • Potatoes are naturally gluten-free, making them a suitable option for individuals with gluten intolerance or celiac disease. source: celiac.org
  • The antioxidants in potatoes can help reduce inflammation in the body. source: pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

Nutritional Value of Potato: 

Potato contains essential nutrients such as carbohydrates, dietary fibre, proteins and amino acids, essential vitamins and trace minerals.1 

Nutritional components Value/100 grams 
Carbohydrate 17.5 g 
Protein 2.05 g 
Fats 0.09 g 
Fibre 2.1 g 
Starch 15.3 g 
Sugar 0.82 g 
Energy 77 kcal 
Table 1: The nutritional value of raw potato per 100 grams.2 

Components Value/100 grams 
Calcium 12 mg 
Sodium 6 mg 
Potassium 425 mg 
Magnesium 23 mg 
Iron 0.81 mg 
Zinc 0.3 mg 
Copper 0.11 mg 
Manganese 0.153 mg 
Phosphorus 57 mg 
Selenium 0.4  µg 
Vitamin B6 0.298 mg 
Folate 15  µg 
Choline 12.1 mg 
Betaine 0.2 mg 
Riboflavin 0.032 mg 
Niacin 1.06 mg 
Thiamin 0.081 mg 
Vitamin C 19.7 mg 
β-carotene 1  µg 
Vitamin K 2  µg 
Lysine 0.107 g 
Threonine 0.067 g 
Leucine 0.098 g 
Aspartic acid 0.48 g 
Alanine 0.063 g 
Valine 0.103 g 
Phenylalanine 0.081 g 
Table 2: Vitamins, minerals and amino acids in raw potato per 100 grams.2 

Also Read: Brinjal: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects and More!

Properties of Potato: 

The potential properties of potatoes are: 

  • It may acta as an anti-oxidant 
  • It might have an anti-cancer (prevents the growth of cancer cells) potential 
  • It might have an anti-proliferative (stops the spread of cancer cells) potential 
  • It may be liver-protective 
  • It may be a potential cytotoxic (kills cancer cells) 
  • It may be a potent anti-viral agent 
  • It may be a potential prebiotic4 
  • It may be a potential anti-bacterial agent  
  • It may have potential anti-inflammatory action 
  • It may help with its potential anti-allergic property 
  • It may be an anti-mutagenic (prevents mutation) 
  • It might help with blood pressure-lowering.3,4 

As we all know, potatoes are a good source of many nutrients. It includes nutrients like carotenoids. Certain carotenoids such as zeaxanthin and lutein might be useful in maintaining eye health as they are components of the human eye.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, B.A.M.S, M.D (Ayu)

Also Read: Cauliflower: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects, and More!

Potential Uses of Potato: 

Potatoes are considered a staple food worldwide because of the versatility it offers. Toss it in your curries, or mash it, layer your toasts with it or simply add to anything as a binding agent, the uses are literally endless. The importance of potatoes has increased globally due to their nutritional significance and potential health benefits that it might offer.1 Some of the potential uses of potatoes are discussed as follows. 

1. Potential uses of potato for cancer 

Potatoes are a rich source of bioactive compounds like anthocyanin, lectin and glycoalkaloids that might have a potential anti-tumour action on cancer cells. Studies have shown that cooked extract of potato might be effective against stomach cancer. It might kill and suppresse cancer cell growth in the stomach and might inhibits the spread of breast cancer cells. The potato extracts also help with colon and liver cancers.5 However, there is a need for more studies on the potential use of potato for cancer. 

2. Potential uses of potato for diabetes 

Diabetes is a global concern in both developed and developing countries. Eating potatoes might help lower the risk of type 2 diabetes. Animal studies suggest that potato peel extracts, a rich source of anti-oxidants, might help reduce glucose levels,oxidative stress and may lower the absorption of glucose in the gut.5 So enjoying a bowl of mashed potatoes might do more good than just fill up your tummy. However, there is a need for more studies on humans to reach coclusions about the safe use of potato for diabetes. 

3. Potential uses of potato for heart  

Various animal studies showed that peels of potato might lower plasma cholesterol and decrease liver fat cholesterol. Potato might also plays a significant role in lipid metabolism and help with  plasma triglycerides (fats). Plasma vitamin E and anti-oxidant levels might be more effective in potato-fed animals and might demonstrate dditional heart benefits to potato consumption. Phytochemicals, like anti-oxidants, may be responsible for reducing inflammation, a risk factor for heart disease.5 However, there is a need for more studies in this area. 

4. Potential uses of potato for bowels  

The anti-oxidant (anthocyanins) of potato may have beneficial effects on the bowel flora. An animal study showed different types of coloured potato flakes that might affect bowel health.3 Preliminary results of anthocyanins of the red-fleshed potato variety seemed to significantly increase the gut ‘good bacteria’ (lactobacillus) count, promoted excretions of bile acids that are necessary for fat digestion and helped with the total faecal count. Thus, anti-oxidants present in potatoes might help the colonic (bowel) environment which may be helpful for digestive health.3 However, more studies are required to prove the potentaial benefits of potato for bowels.  

5. Potential uses of potato for skin 

The potential uses of potato for skin might be due to its help with pimple scars and marks. Potato juice for skin might help manage discolouration on the face. The nutrients of potatoes and their potential uses make them a considerable choice for cosmetic preparations and against scars and acne. Applying potato on the face might help with the acne scars. Hence, the bleaching properties of potatoes might prove to be a natural alternative for skin whitening and fading scars.6 However, mpre studies are required in this field. Please ensure that you consult a doctor before using potato for your skin. 

6. Other Potential uses of potato: 

  • Potatoes (Aloo) might have a positive effect on urinary control and possible prostate involvement.5 
  • Potato may help with eye health.4 
  • The extract of potato peel may help to protect the liver from injury.4 
  • Eating potatoes daily may help with malnutrition due to nutritional components such as carbohydrates, proteins, fibre, vitamins and minerals.5 

Though there are studies that show the potential uses of potato in various conditions, but these are insufficient and there is a need of further studies to establish the true extent of benefits of potato on human health.  

Let me tell you that including potatoes in your diet will add good nutritional value. It is a good source of many macros and micronutrients. For instance, potassium is one of the minerals found in potatoes. Potassium aids in many systemic functions like maintaining electrolyte balance along with maintaining muscular, cardiovascular, and nervous system function. Therefore, eating potatoes might be highly beneficial.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

Also Read: Radish: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects and More!

How to Use Potato? 

Potatoes are not only used as a vegetable for cooking at home, but also used as animal feed,fuel and as seed tuber for the next season potato crop.7 Potatoes can be used in the following ways: 

  • Frozen potatoes can be used to prepare processed foods such as French fries and potato chips that are mainly used in the form of snacks. 
  • Fresh potatoes can be boiled, baked or fried and used to make several recipes such as potato dumplings, potato pancakes, mashed potatoes, potato soup and salad.Click or tap here to enter text. 
  • Dehydrated potatoes are used in the preparation of potato flour. 
  • The various food industries use potato flour to bind meat mixtures and thicken gravies and soups. 
  • Potato starch is used as a binding agent in cake dough, mixes, biscuits and ice cream and as a thickener for stews and sauces. 

Also Read: The Lifespan of Potatoes: How Long Does Potatoes Last?

Side Effects of Potato: 

Surprisingly enough, allergic reactions may be a rare side effect of potatoes. Allergies from cooked potatoes are rare and uncommon and observed in infants. Immunoglobulin E (IgE)-mediated hypersensitivity and food protein-induced enterocolitis are the major factors that result in severe allergic reactions.8 

The most common side effects of potatoes are: 

  • Atopic dermatitis (itchy rashes on the body) 
  • Vomiting 
  • Blood-stained diarrhoea 
  • Dehydration 
  • Hypothermia (low body temperature) 
  • Low blood pressure 
  • Lethargy (drowsiness/lack of energy).Discomfort 
  • Asthma.1,8 

However, if you experience any adverse reactions to it, immediately contact your Ayurvedic physician who has prescribed it to you. They will be able to treat you appropriately. 

Also Read: Unlocking The Health Benefits Of Purple Potatoes

Precautions to Take with Potato (Aloo): 

General precautions need to be followed while consuming cooked potatoes. Parents should take extra precautions before giving them to children. 

  • Severe potato-induced allergic reactions are observed in infants. The allergies to cooked potatoes are mainly related to proteins. The experience of such responses is seen when they are exposed to solid food.1,8 
  • Hence, even though allergic reactions to potatoes are rare, parents need to be extra cautious towards their children to avoid such severe reactions. However, if any adverse effects are seen, consult your Ayurvedic physician immediately. 
  • Housewives and older women have reported rare cases of allergies to potatoes.1 Hence, they should need to be careful about the consumption of potatoes. Therefore, if any health-related issue appears, consult your Ayurvedic physician. 

Also Read: Bottle Gourd: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects and More!

Interactions With Other Drugs: 

The activity and the duration of action of a drug depend on its breakdown by specific enzymes. Some nutrients can interfere with these enzyme systems and might change the drug efficacy and course of action.9 Potato produces specific natural components (glycoalkaloids), which inhibit the activity of the particular enzymes responsible for the breakdown of anaesthetic drugs. It leads to altering the drug’s metabolism process and time of action. Thus, diet can play a crucial role in patient recovery and wide variation in recovery time from anaesthetic drugs is seen in normal, healthy individuals.9 

Frequently Asked Questions: 

What is the effect of cooking methods on potatoes? 

Cooking potatoes at a high temperature leads to loss of essential nutrients. It also produces a small amount of acrylamide, which is a potential carcinogen (causes cancer).1 However, more research is required in this field as the information availbale is insufficient to draw conlusions. 

Which vitamins are present in potatoes? 

Potato contains vitamin B6, vitamin C, riboflavin, niacin, thiamine and vitamin K, which might help in lowering the risk of various chronic and acute diseases.1,2 However, there is a need for more studies to state the effects of potato and its constituents on human health. 

What are the disadvantages of potatoes? 

Allergic reactions caused by cooked potatoes in infants are a major disadvantage of potatoes. Potato peel allergies are also observed in women causing asthma.1,7  More data in the form of studies is required to know the exact type of reactions and the reason for its occurrence. 

What are the benefits of potatoes for the skin? 

The potential use of potato for the skin might be mainly related to the apparent skin-lightening properties of raw potato. Rubbing potato on the face might help lighten scars. The slice may have to be used as it is because washing might lose its natural properties.10  However, more research is required to know about the use of potato for the skin. Kindly consult a qualified doctor before using anything for your skin. Do not self-medicate. 

What phytochemicals are present in potatoes and how do they benefit?

Potato contains several phytochemicals such as flavonoids, phenolics, carotenoids and polyamines, which are highly desirable in a diet due to their beneficial effects on human health. They may play a crucial role in promoting the population’s health where potatoes form an essential part of the daily diet.4 

Are potatoes good for weight loss?  

Yes. Potatoes have a positive role in controlling hunger that contributes to satiety. Satiety is the feeling of fullness and the loss of hunger after eating. Boiled potatoes might help with weight loss by delaying subsequent meals and total calories consumed.5 However, there is a need for more studies in this field. You should consult a doctor before using potatoes for any particular health benefits. Kindly do not self-medicate. 

References: 

1. Zaheer K, Akhtar MH. Potato Production, Usage, and Nutrition–A Review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2016;56(5):711-21. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24925679/  

2. United States Department of Agriculture [Internet]. Potatoes, flesh and skin, raw; 2019 Jan 4 [cited 2022 Jun 9]. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170026/nutrients 

3. Zhao CL, Guo HC, Dong ZY, Zhao Q. Pharmacological and nutritional activities of potato anthocyanins. Afr J Pharm Pharmacol. 2009 Jan 1;2(10):463-8. Available from: https://academicjournals.org/article/article1380893156_Zhao%20et%20al.pdf 

4. Ezekiel R, Singh N, Sharma S, Kaur A. Beneficial phytochemicals in potato – a review. Food Res Int. 2013 Mar 1;50(2):487-96. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0963996911002559  

5. Camire ME, Kubow S, Donnelly DJ. Potatoes and human health. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2009 Nov 1;49(10):823-40. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19960391/ 

6. Academia [Internet]. Acne scars; [cited 2022 Jun 9]. Available from: https://www.academia.edu/14786414/Acne_scars 

8. Monti G, Viola S, Tarasco V, Lupica MM, Cosentino V, Castagno E. A case of severe allergic reaction to cooked potato. Acta Paediatr. 2011 Nov 1;100(11):e236-8. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21561467/ 

9. McGehee DS, Krasowski MD, Fung DL, Wilson B, Gronert GA, Moss J. Cholinesterase inhibition by potato glycoalkaloids slows mivacurium metabolism. Anesthesiology. 2000 Aug 1;93(2):510-9. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10910502/ 

10. Mustafa AMA, Aziz MMA. Determination of Hydroquinone in Skin-Lightening Creams Sold in Sudan-by Using High-Performance Liquid Chromatography. J Middle East North Afr Sci. 2016;2(7):17-21. Available from: https://nebula.wsimg.com/6f9726deba6f184448ec42c489f9dece?AccessKeyId=496D8DBA34323A04A464&disposition=0&alloworigin=1 

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