Potato is a general favourite. We love it prepared in any way, however, we often think of it as a forbidden food while dieting. Some of its most delicious forms will never be included in the list of allowed, good foods (not only in the periods of dieting). Crisps, chips and French fries are bad for the health, however, the boiled or roast in butter potatoes are great food.
Due to the fashionable nowadays low-carb/protein diets, potatoes have bad reputation because they are rich in starch. Often, they are completely excluded from the menu. They do not deserve such grave injustice. Potatoes are root vegetable rich in variety of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. They are very beneficial to human health and help prevent some illnesses. They also contain a compound called alpha-lipoic acid that helps transform glucose in energy. Some data show that alpha-lipoic acid helps control glucose levels in the blood and vasodilation, helps prevent retinopathy in patients suffering from diabetes, and protects brain and nervous tissue.
A few more of the health benefits of potatoes are improving digestion, lowering cholesterol, stimulating the health of the heart, controlling diabetes, boosting the immune system, preventing cancer, preventing polyps, protecting the skin, improving the health of the eyes, improving the condition of the hair.
It all comes down to the “golden mean”. Enjoy potatoes in moderate amounts and have a varied menu.
Potatoes belong to the Solanaceae family and are tubers containing starch. Potatoes are one of the most widely spread vegetables in the world and are one of the big four in terms of volume of raw materials (after rice, wheat and corn).
Potatoes originate from South America, most probably from a region within the borders of nowadays Peru, Bolivia and Chile. They reached the rest of the world in the end of the 15th century when the Europeans came to America. There are more than 200 wild potato sorts in South America.
The English word potato comes from the Spanish patata, which in its turn comes from papa (meaning potato) in the Quechua language of the Inca people. In the 16th century, the potato was brought to Spain (first records from Seville around 1570) and from there spreads to Europe, North America, Africa and Asia.
Another interesting fact is that potatoes were referred to as “truffles”, because only the subterranean tuber structures of the plant were consumed. The Bulgarian “картоф”, the Russian “картофель” and the German “Kartoffel” derive from the Italian “tartufoli” given to the potatoes because of their resemblance to the truffles – subterranean fungus.
In a similar way, potatoes were mistakened for sweet potatoes. As mentioned above, the English “potato” comes from the Spanish word “patata” which is a hybrid between the Taíno “batata” (sweet potato, Ipmoea batatas) and the Quechua “papa”. The sweet potato conquers the world way earlier – Christopher Columbus himself brings it from the Caribbean islands. Potatoes and sweet potatoes are very distant relatives, however, because both plants have edible subterranean structures they were often confused and thought to be the same.
Lately, sweet potatoes became quite popular even here in Bulgaria and are often included as an ingredient of many healthy recipes, but we will leave this for another article.
The famous potatoes, a favourite to almost all, rarely cause allergic reactions in children and are a high-energy food, which makes them suitable to be the first vegetable you offer to your baby. Buy old potatoes without any greenish spots or wrinkles. A suitable way to prepare them for your baby is: wash them, peel them and soak them in cold water for 15 minutes, after that you can boil in little water or steam them, and blend them to puree.
You can find more about the nutritious facts of potatoes in Beboran App.