The plant grows about 12 to 18 inches in length and bears many tubers underground. The tubers usually have round to oval or oblong shape and vary widely in size. Internally, the flesh features bright cream-white, rose red or russet color depending on the variety with moist texture and have special buttery "potato" flavor.
Potato, nutritionally rich tuberous root vegetable, is a good source of starch, vitamins and fiber. The humble tuber is one of the most widely grown perennial crops and one of the cheap staple food items of the poor population all over the world. Botanically, it belongs to the various perennial subspecies of Solanum tuberosum of the Solanaceae family.
Health benefits of Potato
- Potatoes are one of the richest sources of starch, vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber. 100 g provides 70 calories, however, they contain very little fat (just 0.1 g per100 g) and no cholesterol.
- They are very good natural sources of both soluble and insoluble fiber. The dietary fiber in them increases the bulk of the stool, thus, it helps prevent constipation, decrease absorption of dietary cholesterol and there by lower plasma LDL cholesterol. Additionally, the rich fiber content also helps protect from colon polyps and cancer.
- The fiber content aids in slow digestion starch and absorption of simple sugars in the gut. It thus help keep blood sugar levels within the normal range and avoid wide fluctuations. For the same reason, potato is considered as reliable source of carbohydrates in diabetics.
- The tubers are one of the richest sources of B-complex group of vitamins such as pyridoxine (vitamin B6), thiamin, niacin, pantothenic acid and folates.
- Fresh potato along with its skin is good source of antioxidant vitamin; vitamin-C. 100 g of fresh tuber provides 11.4 mg or 20% of daily required levels of this vitamin. Regular consumption of foods rich in vitamin-C helps body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals.
- They also contain adequate amounts of many essential minerals like Iron, manganese, magnesium, phosphorous, copper and potassium.
- Red and russet potatoes contain good amount vitamin A, and antioxidant flavonoids like carotenes and zeaxanthins.
- Recent studies at Agricultural research service (by plant genetics scientist Roy Navarre) suggests that flavonoid antioxidant, quercetin present in potatoes has anti-cancer and cardio-protective properties.