Potatoes

Potatoes

PotatoesOne of the most common and most important sources of food are potatoes. Potatoes do not only contain a large number of nutrients, they also provide a wealth of health benefits. This makes them even more essential to the diet of the world’s population. This article will explore where potatoes actually come from, which health benefits they provide and it will give some tips on how you can store them best.

Description

One of the advantages of potatoes is that they can be consumed in many different ways. Whether you like to have mashed potatoes, bake them of make French fries, many people associate potatoes to be a form of comfort food. Also, crisps are made from potatoes. On a global scale, crisps are probably one of the best well known snacks. Some people say that the sentiment of potatoes being comfort food is derived from its Latin name, namely Solanum tuberosum. In Latin, Solanum means “soothing”. The scientific name of the food also indicates that is belongs to the Solanaceae family. Many other products belong to this family as well. For example, peppers, eggplants and tomatoes all belong to this family. While many people only know one or two types of potatoes, there are actually more than 100 different varieties of edible potatoes. The potatoes do not only range in size, shape and flavor, but they also differ color and starch content. The most common distinction between the two types of potatoes are mature potatoes and new potatoes. Mature potatoes are characterized as being the large potatoes which most people are generally familiar with. New potatoes are those which are harvested before maturity and are much smaller compared to mature potatoes. Some of the most popular varieties of potatoes include the Katahdin, the White Rose and Russet Burbank. These types of potatoes are considered to be mature potatoes. Potatoes such as the Red Pontiac and the Red Le Soda are types of new potatoes since they are much smaller. There are also potatoes which are often referred to as delicate fingerlings. As the name suggests, they are finger-shaped looking potatoes which do not differ much in flavor from mature potatoes. The skin of the potato can have different colors. There are potatoes which have a brown or yellow color, but there are also potatoes which have a red skin. This is dependent on the type of potato. Moreover, the skin can either be smooth or rough, and the flesh of the potato is often yellow or white. There are also potatoes which have a purple skin, and the flesh had a deep violet color. Also, since potatoes are naturally full of starch, they are a good complement to a wide variety of meals. The texture of potatoes is often described as being creamy and rich. The texture is, however, also dependent on how the vegetable is prepared.

History

Potatoes are said to originate in the Andean mountain region of South America. Different estimations have been made with regards to how long potatoes have been cultivated. Researchers estimate that the vegetable has been cultivated for over 7,000 years in this region. It is said that the Indians, who were living in this region, were the ones cultivating the vegetable. Since the population lived in the mountains, they needed to be able to grow a vegetable which could be cultivated in the high altitudes of this area. Since potatoes were able to do so, they became the staple food for this population. Potatoes were introduced in Europe by Spanish explorers who travelled to South America in the early 16th century. The explorers often consumed potatoes on the ships in order to prevent scurvy. Potatoes were considered to be a good source for this since they contain vitamin C. Thus, potatoes were introduced in the rest of Europe through Spain. The vegetable was being consumed by people in Germany as well as Italians. However, many people throughout Europe did not eat the vegetable, even though it many government promoted the vegetable. The fact that people did not eat potatoes was not related to the fact that it might have been expensive, since potatoes are relatively cheap to produce. The reason why many people did not eat the vegetable is because they believed that the potato was related to the nightshade family. Many people believed that it was poisonous. Also, many people were suspicious of the vegetable since it was not specifically mentioned in the Bible. At one moment, potatoes had such a bad reputation that people even believed that eating potatoes could cause leprosy. It is estimated that potatoes were introduced in the United States in the early 18th century. It is said that Irish immigrants were the ones who brought the vegetable to the US. Americans were relatively slow to add the vegetable to their own diet. It is for this reason that cultivation on a large scale only occurred in the 19th century. Today, potatoes are one of the most popular foods throughout the world. Interestingly, Americans are now some of the biggest consumers of potatoes. The main producers of potatoes are currently China, Russia, India, Poland and the United States.

Health benefits

Besides the fact that potatoes can be used for a wide variety of dishes, they also provide many health benefits. For example, potatoes are primarily made of carbohydrates and they almost do not contain any protein. This makes it an ideal type of food for people who quickly want to gain weight. Also, it contains vitamin B and vitamin C. These vitamins also play a role in the absorption of carbohydrates. It is for this reason that many athletes consume potatoes in order to create a large energy reserve. Sumo wrestlers also have potatoes as part of their diet since they are required to have a particular weight in order to be able to compete  in tournaments. Another health benefit of potatoes is the fact that are not only easy to digest but they also facilitate digestion. This makes it a great source of food for babies or those people who cannot digest hard food but do need energy. While it is good to consume potatoes, eating too many potatoes can cause acidity on the long term. Moreover, potatoes also contain a high amount of fiber. This means that is increases the secretion of gastric juices and prevents conditions such as constipation. Also, researchers have found that it can also play a role in the prevention of colorectal cancer. Furthermore, the vitamins and minerals in potatoes are good for the skin. Minerals such as magnesium, zinc, potassium and phosphorus all have a positive effect on the skin. Besides the fact that these minerals have a positive effect on the skin, potatoes can also serve as a face mask. The pulp which is obtained from crushed raw potatoes can be mixed with honey and then applied to the skin. It is said that this combination can also help to cure pimples and spots on the skin. Moreover, it can also provide quick relief when it is applied to burns.


Other benefits

Another benefit of potatoes is that they are effective in reducing inflammation. This can be internal as well as external inflammation. For example, it can relieve inflammation of the intestines and the digestive system. The components which are responsible for this relief are potassium, vitamin B6 and vitamin C. It is also considered to be a good dietary element for those people who have mouth ulcers as well. However, it is important that a balance should be found since eating too many potatoes can cause weight gain. Potatoes are also said to have a positive effect on rheumatism. Calcium and magnesium, for example, can help to provide relief from rheumatism. The water which is obtained from boiling potatoes is also said to relieve the pain and inflammation of rheumatism. However, due to the high starch content, it tends to increase body weight. This could have an adverse effect on people  with rheumatism. Thus, it is important to consider potatoes as a helpful approach without consuming the potato itself.

Use of potatoes

As mentioned, potatoes can be eaten in various ways. You can eat them mashed, boiled or fry them to make French Fries. One of the ways you can prepare potatoes is to combine puree roasted garlic with olive oil and cooked potatoes. Mix all of these together and you will have delicious garlic mashed potatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste and your dish is ready to be served. Another way potatoes are consumed is as part of the classic dish Salad Nicoise. They feature as a main ingredient in this recipe. Salad Nicoise usually consists of chunky boiled potatoes, chunks of tuna fish and a mix of green beans and tomatoes. The salad is then lightly dressed with vinegar and oil. Also, if you quickly want to make a side dish, potatoes are an ideal vegetable since they do not take long to cook. Toss diced and steamed potatoes with olive oil and add a variety of fresh herb to them and your side dish will be ready to be served.

How to select and store

Almost every supermarket sells potatoes. Most potatoes are often sold in a plastic bag. However, when buying potatoes from the supermarket it is better to buy them individually than prepackaged. This will not only allow you to inspect the potatoes for decay or damage, but in many cases the plastic bags are not perforated. Since they are not perforated, they cause a build-up of moisture inside the bag which can negatively affect the vegetable. When choosing potatoes, there are a few things you should pay attention to. The potatoes should be firm and relatively smooth. Also, they should be free from any decay of dark spots. You should also make sure that they are not sprouting or have green coloration since this usually indicated that they contain the toxic alkaloid solanine. This element does not only give potatoes an undesirable taste but it could also cause health conditions such as diarrhea and headaches. Many stores also offer potatoes which are  already cleaned. It is not recommended to buy those since the protective coating of these potatoes are removed. These potatoes are therefore more vulnerable to bacteria. Also, the washed potatoes are usually more expensive compared to the unwashed ones. Since you will be rinsing the potatoes at home again, it is an unnecessary cost which you will be paying. Potatoes should not be stored in the refrigerator since the starch content will be turned into sugar. This will give the potatoes an undesirable taste. Moreover, make sure that you do not store potatoes next to onions since the gases of onions can cause potatoes to degrade. Wherever you want to store the potatoes, make sure that you put them in a paper bag. Mature potatoes can usually be stored up to two months. If you want to cook potatoes and store them, that is also possible. In the refrigerator, cooked potatoes will remain fresh for a couple of days. It is not recommended to put potatoes in the freezer.





                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Article written by: SarahAjaoud
Times read: 535x
Added: 29-01-2017 23:34
Last modified: 28-03-2017 22:45

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