While often thought of as a “bad vegetable” or and excuse for one, these starchy tubers do have their merits. Potatoes are chock full of fibre and vitamin C, though if the skins are removed the fibre content drops to nil and if they are well cooked the vitamin C is virtually all destroyed. I’m not about to suggest you start eating raw potato peelings for breakfast, but consider how you choose to incorporate this nightshadey, carbo-loading comfort food into your meal planning.
The nightshade family of plants includes vegetables such as peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, and you guessed it: potatoes. Though the family includes over two thousand plants, many are not edible. Some containing potent alkaloids are poisonous to the human body; Belladonna (also called deadly nightshade) and Mandragora (mandrake) for example contain psychotropic alkaloids. The human body understandably tends to have an inflammatory response to the consumption of these veggies. Over time continued low level inflammation can be an untraceable source for a variety of health concerns.
While there are over 200 different varieties of potatoes, there are usually only a handful of them easily found in our grocery stores. The nutritional value is going to vary based on more than a few factors. The soil in which they are grown in naturally plays a large factor. Thus, if you can avoid buying mass farmed produce and instead support local farmers growing on a smaller scale with more attention to their crops you’ll be much better off. Generally this goes for most of the fruit & veggies at the grocery store.
Potatoes with coloured skins will contain more nutrients than their paler siblings, but aside from that they all have a fairly similar nutritional profile. Choose the type of potato that’s best for what you’re using it for: waxy varieties for things like potato salad, starchier potatoes for baked french fries. And remember moderation of course!
Surprisingly sweet potatoes & yams are not of the nightshade family and therefore make a fantastic alternative. Another great substitution that I’ll be serving with Thanksgiving dinner later this month is mashed cauliflower. Your guests will never know the difference, I’ve fooled many over the years! Consider adding it onto the menu…
Lastly, potatoes are a crop that is often subjected to a high dose of pesticides. The chemicals are found in the skins, and no amount of scrubbing will change that. If you’d like to keep the nutritional powerhouse that is the skin on your spud, be sure to buy organic.