The Potato Story
Nutritionists are encouraging all of us to get back to basics. Eating whole, less processed foods is good for us. Those of you who have read any of my articles know I am constantly saying that ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’. Scientists have not been able to create a pill or a vitamin or mineral supplement that is as complete as the real thing. Often, the body does not even recognize synthetic vitamins and they are not properly absorbed. But unprocessed, whole foods, now that’s a different story. Whole foods or synthetic blends, which would you, rather eat?
Years ago, people ate real foods. Imagine that! Foods that don’t come in a can, jar or tetrapack!
Here’s an example. Recent studies conducted by the US Agricultural Research Service have found some interesting benefits of the lowly white potato. People often categorize potatoes with white pasta or white bread and therefore not nutritious.
Dr.Roy Navarre is a genetist with the ARS in Prosser Washington. His studies showed that potatoes are packed with phenols. Phytochemical profiles revealed an amazing list of flavinoids. These include:
Quercetin – has anticancer and cardio-protective properties
Kekoamines- regulate blood pressure
Carotenoids – protect against cancer
Luteine and Zeaxanthin – also protect against cancer and macular degeneration
Caffeic acid – antioxidant
So, white potatoes have been found to have anticancer and cardioprotective properties. Red skinned potatoes and Norkotah ( a variety of Russet) contain high amounts of polyphenols in the range of those found in broccoli, spinach and brussel sprouts.
Not only are potatoes loaded with great phenols, they also contain:
Vitamin C – a powerful anti-inflammatory agent that also helps fight free radicals and increases resistance to infection
Vitamin B6 – this anti-oxidant can help prevent cancer and cardiovascular disease by a process called ‘methylation’. This eliminates toxins and a dangerous molecule called homocysteine from damaging blood vessels in the heart.
Vitamin A, B and Folate- important for brain and nervous system health
Potassium, copper, manganese and niacin – help with cardiovascular, urinary tract and digestive system health.
Fiber – helps protect against colon polyps and cancer. Fiber also slows digestion and aids in maintaining normal blood sugar levels.
All of this was shown in a paper published in Agriculture Research Magazine entitled ‘Phyochemical Profilers Investigate Potato Benefits’, September 2007.
As we develop methods for testing and researching the properties of whole foods, we will continue to find out more about the nature of the foods we eat.
It becomes increasingly clear that we need to trust Mother Nature. When we think we can get our nutrition from a pill, think again. What could be more simple? Loading up on synthetic supplements or eating an apple or in this case, a potato?