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For the Goodness of a Tater – 9 Potato Myths Busted!
If I had a dime for every time someone told me to “watch your potato”, I’d be a rich woman by now. The legendary tuber has long been a victim of misunderstanding. From the late 1500s to the present, the potato has been condemned for various reasons. In 1580, the famous explorer Sir Walter Raleigh brought back some potato plants from America to Ireland and gave some to Queen Elizabeth I. Unfortunately, the Queen’s palace cooks were not too familiar with the funny tuber and instead of cooking the potatoes, they boiled the stems and leaves before presenting it to the court at mealtime. For those of you unaware of the more sinister features of the potato plant, it contains toxic compounds called glycoalkaloids, most of which are concentrated in the leaves and stems of the plant. As a result, everyone who consumed the boiled concoction became deathly ill, and as a result, potatoes were banned from the Queen’s court.
After that, malicious rumors seemed to follow the unfortunate tuber wherever it was introduced into the world. In France, for example, the potato was ascribed an almost demonic status and accused of causing hideous diseases ranging from leprosy to syphilis, as well as being responsible for sterility and uninhibited sexuality. The potato gradually became so notorious that in a certain French town, an announcement was made that the potato was harmful to the health of man, animals, and the soil, and its cultivation was immediately stopped.
Modern times have found other reasons to malign the well-intentioned vegetable. Although the potato is one of the foods most people enjoy today, a diet-driven, health-mad society today points out that the potato, being extremely rich in starch, can hardly boast of any other type of nutritional value. People today are so caught up in the diabetes-free, anti-carb, zero-calorie campaign that they don’t see the potato for what it really is – a highly nutritious vegetable, which when prepared and eaten properly. way and in the right amounts, it tends to help more often than it does harm.
According to a United Nations report, global potato production peaked at 315 million tons in 2006, and today, nearly 1/3 of global production can be attributed to China and India—two of the world’s most populous countries. According to sources, an average global citizen consumes about 33 kg (73 lbs) of potatoes per year! In fact, the average American consumes nearly 140 pounds per year, while Germans eat about 200 pounds per year! Although there are a few basic standardized types of potato, 4,000 different varieties are grown worldwide. The potato was also the first vegetable grown in space in 1995, with the aim of feeding astronauts and future space colonies! Given the effort required to grow so many varieties of potato and the volume of production and consumption around the world, it’s hard to think of the mash as a vicious, poisonous vegetable ready to kill from syphilis or obesity. And as it turns out, the potato is anything but! Here’s a list of some common potato myths that still trouble people today.
Myth 1: The potato is not a vegetable
The potato, although a tuberous root, is classified as a vegetable in the Food Guide Pyramid. However, it is also sometimes referred to as an edible root or tuber. The potato is an important part of the total recommended daily servings of vegetables. A medium-sized potato counts as one cup of starchy vegetables.
Myth 2: Potatoes are fattening
Nutritionally speaking, a potato is about 80% water and 20% solids and about as nutritionally dense as you would expect from any normal vegetable. A raw or baked potato with skin normally contains 100 calories, 22 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of protein and NO fat! I bet that’s great news for all the dieters in the world who have been told that eating potatoes is suicide for a weight loss program. This is completely untrue if eaten in all its goodness—roasted, mashed, boiled, roasted, steamed, or boiled. Although a potato looks big, meaty, and downright dangerous to the Atkins devotee, it alone won’t do much to help someone gain weight because of its high water content. However, a potato with the added coating of butter or cream, served as chips/fries or baked with cheese will not only hinder weight loss, but contribute to weight gain as well as cholesterol and blood sugar problems. While a simple baked potato would be no more than 100 calories and no fat, a small packet of fries would easily add up to about 210 calories without the extra fat.
Myth 3: Chips are vegetables
Although this common potato myth believes that chips and crisps are considered vegetables in the food guide pyramid, this is completely misleading. The glaring fact is that although potatoes in their raw form are classified in the vegetable group, crisps containing almost 61% fat do not.
Myth 4: Potatoes contain simple carbohydrates
Potatoes contain complex carbohydrates, which are absolutely necessary for the energy needs of the body and brain. Most of these carbohydrates exist in the form of starch. A portion of this starch, which is resistant to digestion by enzymes in the stomach and small intestine, reaches the large intestine almost intact and provides the body with much-needed fiber.
Myth 5: Carbs are the only nutrients in a potato
A medium-sized raw white potato, or baked with skin, is also a powerhouse of other nutrients. It typically contains almost 35% vitamin C, 20% vitamin B6, 15% iodine and 10% copper, iron and niacin, 8% folic acid, phosphorus and magnesium, 4% thiamin and zinc and traces of vitamin A. During the gold rush in Alaska Klondike In the late 1800s, potatoes were so prized by miners for their vitamin C content that they were traded for gold. So much for debunking myth number 5!
Myth 6: All the nutrients in a potato are in its skin
Although most of its protein content is concentrated in its thin skin layer, all other nutrients are evenly distributed throughout the skin and body of the potato. So go ahead and enjoy the tasty goodness of the whole spud!
Myth 7: Potatoes have no antioxidants
Although there are no approved claims for antioxidants in potatoes, some research studies in recent years indicate that potatoes have a high probability of containing antioxidants such as, but not limited to, anthocyanin and carotenoids (in addition to the noted richness in vitamin C).
Myth 8: Potatoes only taste good when cooked in high-fat recipes.
Try an Indian potato curry with boiled potatoes and spices. If you don’t like Asian cuisine, try tossing a baked potato with low-fat gravy or sour cream, or even low-fat cheese. Baked potatoes without cheese in a tomato sauce with a hint of garlic or herbs and served with steamed vegetables or asparagus on the side. Bake them alternately with tarragon leaves and other herbs. Avenues are teeming with creativity waiting to be explored. All with the same end result – a delicious low-fat, high-carb, nutrient-dense meal just waiting to be devoured!
Myth 9: White potatoes are bad for you – eat sweet potatoes instead!
Wrong. A sweet potato, fried and served with cheese, would be just as bad as regular potatoes. The goodness of a vegetable – any vegetable – depends on how it is prepared and how much it is eaten. Although both contain the same number of calories on average, the sweet potato is known to contain less starch, more vitamin C and almost three times the amount of beta-carotene of a white potato. However, if you factor in sugar, the white variety will win hands down due to the higher sugar content of a sweet potato. So it would ideally be safe to say that raw white potatoes and sweet potatoes complement each other nutritionally and neither is “bad” for the body.
As long as the potatoes you eat are cooked in fat-free ways and you replace the sides of cheese, bacon bits, sour cream and creamy gravy with green vegetables, corn and carrots, you can be sure of a good, enjoyable, healthy meal. So go ahead and enjoy your taters the way they should be enjoyed – guilt free and risk free!
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