Lots of us grew up calling them taters. Or some say spuds. The French call them pommes de terre or "apples of the Earth." Personally, I call them delicious. (Even children who have to be cajoled to "eat your vegetables" need no encouragement at all to eat potatoes.) And an ever-increasing body of nutritionists call them a near-perfect food source for humans.
They were discovered in South America, where some varieties still grow wild, and they were first cultivated by the Incas more than 7,000 years ago. They spread quickly to nearby cultures and peoples. When Europeans arrived in the 1500s, the Irish and the Spanish quickly adopted them and exported them to Europe. And since then, they're pretty much everywhere.
Now they're raised and eaten on every continent (well, not too many in Antarctica, but you get my point) and are the world's fourth largest food crop. A full third of them are grown today in China and India. There are very few countries where they're not considered an essential part of the national cuisine.
And that's understandable -- because potatoes can be served in so many different and mouth-watering ways; baked, sliced, fried, stir-fried, mashed, and lots more, and they contain so many good things for your body that they are practically a nutritional plan in and of themselves.
Potatoes are high in starch content, which means they are very high in the food energy that your body needs. They promote digestion by being easy to digest, too, which helps you build energy reserves faster than most foods. Be careful, though -- they're so yummy and energy-dense that it's easy to overdo the calories.
They contain vitamins C and B-complex, which the body needs for health -- and which also synergistically help the body absorb the potato's ample complex carbohydrate content. These vitamins, along with the potassium, zinc, phosphorus, and magnesium in these little nutrition factories, are good for the health and appearance of your skin, too.
And each serving of potatoes has almost 2 grams of protein!
Potatoes are a great natural source of fiber, which is good for digestion, helps prevent colon cancer, and is known to help push cholesterol out of arteries and other blood vessels, aiding in maintaining the health of your heart and circulatory system.
Potatoes are also extremely low in fat.
• Don't eat green potatoes or sprouting potatoes, as they are lower in starch content and higher in sugars, and contain compounds which can upset your digestion and can even be toxic in large quantities. Keep potatoes in a cool, dry, dark place to minimize sprouting.
• Frying in oil causes potatoes to lose most of their vitamin C. Try using an air fryer or vegetable stock, or try baking or steaming them instead. Experiment, add herbs and spices or other extra ingredients, and have fun!
• Along with oils, avoid using butter or cheese with potatoes, as this is a potent formula for quick weight gain -- probably not what you're trying to accomplish! Try nutritional yeast instead as a potato topper, along with a bit of salt and pepper -- boy (personal testimonial here), is that good!
• Don't peel potatoes, especially before cooking them. The peel, in addition to having good mineral and micronutrient content itself, keeps nutrients -- including minerals and proteins -- inside the potato during cooking which would otherwise be lost; and, besides, those baked or fried potato skins taste great!
So, as soon as you read my words, rush right out and grab yourselves some of that health, nutrition, and great taste that natural, home-cooked potatoes can give you every single day!
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