A Moment of Science

Potatoes For Health

Potatoes are a vegetable, but they're full of starch and carbohydrates, so they can't be good for you right?

Potatoes at the Grocery

Photo: Svadilfari (flickr)

Potatoes are a vegetable that are filled with rich nutrients that are very good for you.

Potatoes are a vegetable, but they’re full of starch and carbohydrates, so they can’t be good for you right?

Actually, researchers have now found that many types of potatoes are chock-full of beneficial nutrients and health-promoting “phytochemicals.” The team of researchers used new genetic and chemical analysis to study the nutritional benefits of one-hundred different varieties of wild and cultivated potatoes.

So far, the team has identified over sixty different beneficial compounds, in varying amounts, in the flesh and skin of different strains of potatoes. Among the compounds identified are vitamin C, folic acid, and phenolics, which are thought to reduce the risks of certain cancers, high blood pressure and other diseases. Although high phenolic levels are commonly associated with dark green vegetables, the analysis found that at least two types of red potatoes have phenolic content rivaling that of broccoli and spinach.

Different types of potatoes varied in the content and quantity of different beneficial compounds. The study found almost a seven-fold difference in levels of folic acid between different strains of potato.

The research is exciting because the potato has great potential to increase the amount of beneficial phytochemicals in the diets of consumers worldwide. Eventually, the team’s potato profiling data could be used to develop new varieties with even higher nutritional content than those already available.

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