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Interesting facts about Potatoes

September 18th, 2009

Do you know which is the largest and most economically important vegetable crop in the world?

No guesses – It is potatoes of course.

The first thing that comes to mind on hearing about potatoes is Ireland as that country is often associated with the rich and varied varieties of potatoes. According to available records or history, potatoes have been first cultivated by the Peruvian Indians in and around the Andes Mountains some 4,000 years ago. Now, potatoes are available in every part of the world and is the most widely consumed vegetable crop for most of the people.

More than 70% of the potatoes cultivated across the world are in processed form and are said to have high amount of salt and fat content. However, potatoes are surprisingly very nutritious with low calorie content. It is always advisable to consume the potato with the skin as the crop with its skin is discovered to be high in complex carbohydrates as well as fiber.

According to nutrition experts, one medium-sized baked potato with its skin not peeled off provides about 25 milligrams of Vitamin C and also includes minerals such as 800 milligrams of potassium, good amounts of zinc, magnesium, niacin and thiamine as well as Vitamin B6. The skin of the potato has been found to chlorogenic acid and phytochemical that have anti-cancer properties.

It is a myth among many people that consuming potatoes lead to fattening. This is only partially true. Potatoes, if fried and served with rich sauces and butter, contain large amount of calories and fat content – about thrice the content than a normal baked potato.

It has been found that a medium-sized baked or boiled potato contains about 120 to 150 calories, a little amount of protein and very less or no fat. However, if the same potato, on getting converted into potato chips has between 450 to 500 calories and around 35 grams of fat. Each variant of dish containing potato as the main ingredient, depending upon the mode of preparation, contains increased number of calories and fat content.

While preparing potatoes for cooking, one should ensure that the skin of the vegetable is not removed, because the fiber content that this vegetable provides is present more in the skin. It has further been found that most of the other nutrients that potato provides also lie in and around the skin portion. Instead of peeling off the skin, one can scrub the vegetable immersed in water and using a vegetable brush. Exposing the sliced or peeled raw potato to oxygen might discolor the vegetable, and, as such, one should cook the sliced potato immediately. If you need some more time for other preparations, then you can place them in water and add a little amount of lemon juice to avoid discoloring. In order to reap maximum nutritional benefits of potato, it is advisable to use baking , streaming or microwaving process.

One should refrain storing potatoes in a refrigerator. It is okay if you store it in a dark cool place in room temperature. One more useful thing that needs to be borne in mind is that potatoes and onions should not be stored in a same container or place as the acids present in onion might decompose potatoes, or vice versa.

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