Potatoes are a very popular food item. They are the perfect accompaniment to most meals and can be extremely versatile.
You can make fries, potato chips, mashed potatoes, roast potatoes, or have them as they are!
The real question with potatoes is though, can they be eaten raw – and if so, are they dangerous?
Potatoes – The Different Vegetable
It’s long been cemented that eating raw vegetables is very good for you and is an excellent factor in healthy eating.
When potatoes are mentioned though, people will simply not entertain eating them raw.
This is odd when you think about it, as potatoes are still a vegetable.
For a while, many people used to eat potatoes raw from the ground (not linked to the French translation pomme de terre which is apple of the earth).
In fact, when the potato was introduced to France and grown in mass originally, many people were apprehensive about eating it – despite being incredibly poor.
This was because potatoes contain glycoalkaloids including solanine and chaconine.
These can be harmful in certain amounts as they are toxic. Even the most starving of animals like dogs will turn their nose up at uncooked potatoes.
What Is Potato Plant Poisoning?
Potato plant poisoning comes as a result of somebody consuming fresh sprouts or the green tubers of potato.
It can also occur if someone eats the potato leaves, which are always poisonous apart from sweet potato leaves, which are broadly sold in stores.
Solanine is present throughout the entirety of the potato plant, but you can tell its presence more by a green color to the plant and the sprouts which are never a good idea to consume.
If a potato has expired, spoiled, been contaminated or you see green beneath its skin – dispose of it as soon as possible.
It’s always recommended to avoid touching unfamiliar plants with your bare hands, and if you do – ensure you thoroughly wash them as soon as you can.
Symptoms of potato plant poisoning are mainly gastrointestinal, so you can expect the following:
- Stomach pain
- Shortness of breath
- Changes in the vision
These symptoms might manifest themselves between 8 and 10 hours after consumption or exposure to the plant.
If you have consumed a raw potato that is green, you should contact your doctor.
Other Potato Potentials
Although there is certainly a danger to consuming raw potatoes, it’s not a guarantee for every potato.
The chances are that you’ll be okay after eating a raw potato, especially if it isn’t green – but you may feel slightly nauseous.
The thing is, there are other reasons why you would probably want to steer clear of raw potato consumption.
Besides the fact that prior to cooking, they taste horrible and bitter – they have the potential to make your digestive system go completely haywire.
First, there is a strong carbohydrate presence to be concerned about.
While it is true that humans need carbohydrates for our body’s energy supply – we simply cannot process raw starch correctly, which are also known as resistant starches.
Prior to the cooking process, these starches that are present in potatoes are pretty much indigestible which means your body does not receive the valued nutrients from the potato.
Cooking starches out of food is known as gelation, and this process needs to take place for things like vegan potatoes, oats, rice, and grains.
Although consuming a raw potato and not getting the nutrients from it won’t kill you – it can lead to horrible cramps and bloating, which nobody wants to experience – particularly if you already have a condition like irritable bowel syndrome.
Moreover, raw potatoes contain what is known as antinutrients which cause problems to the normal enzyme production in the gut and overall, prevent proper digestion and consumption.
To curtail antinutrients, you should peel your potatoes and cook them correctly.
Like with every other uncooked and raw food, you should always take extra care in the preparation, cleaning, and cooking process.
If you have decided you have to, or want to, eat a raw potato – you need to ensure you’ve cleaned the potatoes thoroughly.
This is to ensure you are removing any potential pathogens on the potato. Pathogens are the bacteria that cause food illnesses.
The risk of pathogens being present on a raw potato is high as it comes from the ground.
It’s also wise to eat the potato as soon as possible. The toxic compound that we mentioned earlier, solanine – seems to increase in its production when it’s exposed to sunlight.
As potatoes are grown underground, they’re not at large risk initially – until they’re harvested.
Importantly – even if you have cooked a potato that appears green, you should not eat them. The solanine may still be present. In extreme cases, you can die if you have consumed it.
Are There Any Benefits To Eating Raw Potatoes?
Some studies have suggested that a small number of resistant starches can have beneficial effects on those who are living with colon cancer.
Additionally, raw potatoes contain vitamin C and often do not increase your blood sugar.
Due to this, some studies have also suggested that raw potatoes can aid in weight loss management.
However, even with these few examples of health benefits – it’s more largely regarded as unwise to consume raw potatoes.
How To Dispose Of Spoiled Potatoes
If you have noticed your potatoes have begun sprouting or going green, you’ll want to dispose of them safely. There are a few things you can do.
First, you may decide to place the potatoes in your compost heap, which is an ecologically friendly way of doing so. However, you could go one step further than this.
If you place the sprouts of the potatoes back into the ground, carefully use gloves – more potatoes that will be safe to consume when harvested can grow. No waste!
Eating raw potatoes can be dangerous so it is highly recommended that you properly prepare, clean, and cook potatoes.