Debunking The Risks of Eating Raw Potatoes

Updated on May 18th, 2020
Can you eat raw potatoes

If you’ve ever tossed a piece of raw potato in your mouth while you were chopping some up for a stew or soup, you know they have an exciting flavor uncooked. If it appeals to you, the splendid news is that, no matter how you take them, potatoes are a brilliant source of nutrients that boost your health and provide energy.

Raw potatoes are also rich in resistant starch, a kind of carbohydrate that may provide multiple health benefits. However, resistant starch can also trigger digestive trouble. You also need to look out for green potatoes which have toxic substances — those potatoes shouldn’t be eaten cooked or raw.

Benefits of Eating Raw Potatoes

Potatoes tend to get notorious because of their carbohydrate content, but they’re actually very healthy. They’re rich in vitamin C, some of the B vitamins, fiber,  and the minerals phosphorus and potassium. Consuming raw potatoes helps you meet your daily requirements for these nutrients.

A medium raw white potato contains five grams of fiber, which is 20 % of the daily value (DV) for adults. Fiber is a part of plant-based foods that the body can only minimally digest. It moves through the digestive system, mostly unaltered, pushing food along, and helping regularity. Fiber can also minimize the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream, which can reduce your total cholesterol levels for better cardiovascular health.

Vitamin C is vital for wound healing and a healthy immune system(1), and it’s also a powerful antioxidant that can help prevent cardiovascular disease and cancer. One medium-sized raw white potato offers around 40 percent of the DV. It also gives 10 percent of the DV for thiamin, 12 percent of the DV for niacin, and 22 percent of the DV for vitamin B6. As a group, the B vitamins are active in energy production and metabolism and the preparation of red blood cells.

Raw potato nutrition also provides almost 13 percent of the DV for phosphorus and 20 percent of the DV for potassium per medium potato. Potassium aids muscle contraction and nerve transmission and also helps balance sodium in the body. Phosphorus works with calcium to boost bone health, and it’s also involved in energy production.

Potatoes also contain several health-promoting phytochemicals, including flavonoids, phenolics, carotenoids, and anthocyanins. These powerful substances help battle free radicals that damage healthy cells and lead to the formation of disease.

Raw Potatoes vs Cooked Potatoes

Cooking changes the nutrient composition of foods, the extent to which is greatly variable depending upon cooking method, temperature, and other factors. The weight of the food also alters when it’s cooked, so comparing USDA nutrient profiles of cooked versus raw potatoes won’t give a precise picture of the nutrient changes it undergoes.

However, the water-soluble vitamins — vitamin B and the C vitamins — are most prone to losses during cooking. As good as 55 percent of vitamin C content can be lost during cooking, depending on the cooking process. When potatoes are cooked, the B vitamins can leach out into the cooking water.

A 2009 study in the Journal SCIENCE B (of Zhejiang University)  looked at the effects of different cooking techniques on broccoli. It concluded that all cooking procedures besides steaming led to significant losses in protein and vitamin C. Cooking could also minimize the phytochemical substances of foods.

See Also
Foods to eat on an empty Stomach

[ Read: 10 Surprising Health Benefits of Raw Potato ]

Resistant Starch Benefits and Drawbacks

Resistant starch is abundant in Raw potatoes,  which is minimized by cooking. Like fiber, your body doesn’t absorb or digest resistant starch. Instead, resistant starch acts as a food source for the gut bacteria or prebiotic so crucial to your health.

According to a 2017 research in Nutrition Journal, resistant starch can also lower post-meal blood sugar levels, which can prevent the fatigue and mood changes and aid diabetes management that can result from post-meal blood sugar increase. Additionally, a 2015 study in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition states that resistant starch may spike the thermic effect of food, thereby increasing total daily energy expenditure.

Benefits aside, resistant starch can cause digestive discomfort. Although feeding gut bacteria is right for your health, it can trigger uncomfortable gas and bloat, similar to the effects of consuming beans.

Can You Eat Raw Potatoes

Potato plants intrinsically produce some toxic substances that act as defenses. Still, these are contained in the above-ground plant structure and don’t affect the potato itself, which grows below ground. However, if a potato has been exposed to sunlight, damaged, or kept in storage for an extended period, it may develop patches of green and sprouts. 

Is It Safe to Eat Raw Potatoes

The green patches are chlorophyll, a compound produced during photosynthesis. On its own, chlorophyll poses no threat; however, its appearance is a sign that photosynthesis is already in process. During photosynthesis, toxic substances like solanine are found. Eating these substances can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.

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