Potatoes are one of the most widely used vegetables that are found in almost every kitchen. A typical potato can be described as a starchy vegetable belonging to the Solanaceae or nightshade family which also includes tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and tomatillos. The swollen portion of the underground stem called the tuber is edible which we refer to as a potato and it provides food for the leafy portion of the plant. Potatoes are available all the year round and are usually harvested every month.
Considering the fact that potatoes are the fourth largest food crops after rice, wheat and maize, they form an integral part of the world’s cuisine. They are an important staple food and leading vegetable crop in the world. These vegetables can fit into almost every dish and hence, are regarded as a comfort food. Apart from being delicious when cooked, potatoes are quite nutritious with a high content of carbohydrates and vitamin C. Thus, it offers several health benefits and off late its cosmetic benefits have also been recognized.
Skin Benefits Of Potato
Apart from being used as a food source, potatoes have an important role to play in skincare as well. As pointed out earlier, they are rich in vitamin C which is vital for maintaining skin health. Thus, this starchy vegetable is beneficial for your skin in the following ways.
1. Removal of Dark Circles:
Potatoes are a natural under eye brightener and so applying potato juice or potatoes directly can banish dark eye rings. Peel and slice a raw potato into large pieces. Placing them in a cloth or handkerchief, stick them on your eyes for 15-20 minutes. Wash off with warm water. Doing this regularly will reduce your dark circles considerably. You can also apply potato juice under your eyes with a cotton ball to fade away dark circles.
2. Treatment of Wrinkles:
Potato is considered as an effective anti-ageing beauty agent, particularly in warding off wrinkles. Regular application of potato juice imparts a healthy glow and softness to your skin as well as keeps wrinkles at bay.
3. Treatment of Dark Spots:
If you have black spots on your face, you can blend peeled potatoes in a blender and apply them on your face. Give a gentle massage, do peeling for 5 minutes and then, rinse off with clean water.
4. Removal of Facial Blemishes:
Facial blemishes adversely affect your appearance and potato juice is a great natural way to get rid of them. Using cold potato juice as a daily facial rinse can help you get rid you of blemishes, thus giving you clear and perfect skin.
5. Treatment of Sunburns:
Potatoes are wonderful for treating sun burnt skin. All you need to do is place cold potato slices on the affected areas or simply dab potato juice on the spot. This will give you a soothing and cooling sensation as well as diminish your suntan.
6. Skin Lightening:
Apply a mask of grated raw potato on your face and rinse off with water after 30 minutes. Using this on a regular basis will make your face smooth, white and bright as well as reduce facial swelling. You can also apply a mixture of lemon and potato juices to lighten your skin naturally. This acts as mild bleach for your skin and yields quick results.
7. Potato for Dry Skin:
If you have dry skin, you can make a face mask by mixing a grated potato with half a teaspoon of curd. Apply it on your face for 20 minutes and then wash it off. This will act as an anti-ageing mask to hydrate your skin from within as well as replenish moisture into dry skin to iron out fine lines effectively.
8. Lifting of Dead Skin Cells:
Potatoes can also remove dead skin cells on the face. You can apply grated peeled potatoes on your face for 10 minutes and rinse with clean water. Doing this regularly will rejuvenate your skin.
9. Natural Cleanser:
Potato can be used as a natural facial cleanser. For this purpose, blend one potato and one cucumber cut into medium pieces in a blender for 20 seconds. Now add one teaspoon of baking soda and little water to the mixture. You can use this mixture to clean your face which will make your skin more shiny and refreshed.
10. Treatment of Rashes, Itching Sensation and Insect/Pest Bite:
In case of rashes, itching sensation and insect bites, place a slice of raw potato on the affected area for a few minutes. This should be done several times a day for quick relief.
11. Removal of Eye Puffiness:
To remove puffiness around the eyes, apply a mixture of cucumber and potato juice on your face, particularly around the eyes. Cucumber contains ascorbic acid and caffeic acid whereas potato has liquid starch and catecholase. Thus, these two ingredients work well in lightening your skin tone and treating puffiness of eyes.
[ Read: Orange Juice Benefits ]
Hair Benefits Of Potato
Besides being wonderful for your skin, potatoes used along with other ingredients can benefit your hair. Some of the ways in which potato can be beneficial for hair are the following.
12. Promotes Healthy Hair:
Blend grated raw potato to make a smooth paste and squeeze water from it. Mix this water with one whole egg, 3 drops of lemon juice and curd (optional). Apply this on your hair from scalp to ends and wash off after 20 to 25 minutes, using normal shampoo and warm water to get naturally healthy and shiny hair. This mask should be used once in 20 days for best results.
13. Treatment of Grey Hair:
Potato peelings can be used to restore grey hair. You can prepare your own hair tonic by boiling potato peelings in a pan in water that is just enough to cover them. Strain the water in a tumbler or a glass. Use this water to rinse your hair after shampooing it as usual. This will darken your hair back to its natural color. This should be followed religiously for every alternate hair wash to get best results. Alternatively, you can use normally boiled potato water if you are preparing any dish from potatoes.
14. Potato for Hair loss:
To combat hair loss, you can make a hair mask comprising of potato and honey. For this purpose, peel the potato and press out the juice. Mix 2 tablespoons of potato juice with 2 tablespoons of aloe vera and 1 tablespoon of honey. Apply this mixture on the roots and massage your scalp with it. Cover your hair with a shower cap and leave for 2 hours. Wash off with a mild shampoo. This mask should be applied twice a week for best results.
[ Read: Ginger Benefits ]
Health Benefits Of Potato
15. Beat Those Frequent Food Pangs:
Are you trying to lose weight or have frequent food pangs? Then potato is good for you. Potatoes are made of complex carbohydrates and nutrients. Rather than being harmful, a properly cooked new potato has only 26 calories in it making it a very good choice while you are on a diet. Potatoes have low Glycemic Index ranking which makes it filling for the stomach, and as the complex carbohydrates in it break down much slower than sugar, biscuits etc it is much more filling. Having a potato for lunch will keep your stomach full and will keep those food cravings away.
Also it should be noted that the nutritional contents vary with the type of potato and where it is produced and how it is produced but nonetheless, it can be a good addition to your diet.
16. Get A Vitamin Boost:
Potatoes were eaten by 19th Century English and Spanish sailors to protect themselves from scurvy. Potatoes are rich in Vitamin C, a needed vitamin to boost immunity. A medium potato (150g) with the skin intact provides 27mg, almost half of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin C.
Potato benefits include good amount of Vitamin B, and minerals such as potassium, magnesium phosphorus, zinc and iron.
17. Good for The Digestive System:
Potatoes mostly contain carbohydrates and do not contain fat or proteins which make it a good choice for those who cannot digest hard foods. But too much intake of potatoes can lead to acidity.
18. For Cardiovascular Diseases:
Potatoes are a great source of carbohydrates, protein, calcium, niacin and Vitamins C and B-complex. These help to fight heart diseases and keep blood pressure at normal. Potatoes contain carotenoids, which play a key role in keeping you fit and healthy. It also contains Flavonoids which keep bad cholesterol levels low.
[ Read: Benefits of Tomatoes ]
19. Great Source of Fibre:
Potatoes are great as they contain good amounts of fibre. Fibre helps in bowel movement and keeps your digestive system happy. If you suffer from bad bowel movement, try eating cooked potatoes that are left to cool. This helps to increase the indigestible starch in the potato helping in good bowel movements.
20. Keep Stress At Bay:
Potatoes have high amounts of Vitamin B6 helping in cellular repair. Adding it to your diet will result in greater cell renewal and will result in a good mood and less stress. Neurotransmitters, namely serotonin and dopamine are made with Vitamin B6 which is needed for the regulation of moods.
How to Select and Store?
- Selection: These days, potatoes are available in packaged form in a plastic bag. But it is better to buy them individually from a bulk display so that that you can properly inspect them for any signs of decay or damage. Moreover, since the plastic bags are not perforated, they can cause a build-up of moisture which negatively affects the potatoes. While buying potatoes, choose the ones that have smooth and firm skin without eyes or discoloration. Avoid the potatoes having wrinkled or wilted skins, soft dark areas, sprouts, cuts or bruises and green tinges. Green tinged potatoes should particularly be avoided as they contain toxic alkaloids such as solanine formed due to exposure to light. This alkaloid not only imparts an undesirable taste but also causes a host of health problems such as circulatory and respiratory depression, diarrhea and headaches. Potatoes with sprouts should also be avoided as they are old. If you are buying potatoes in a bag, it should be checked properly to discard any rotten potato as it can spoil the others. Often stores offer cleaned potatoes which are a bit costlier. However, these should be avoided as their protective coat has been removed by washing, making them more vulnerable to bacteria. New potatoes should be preferred for boiling and salads as they have a thinner skin and are firmer.
- Storage: As far as storage is concerned, potatoes should be stored in a cool, dark, dry and properly ventilated place at a temperature of 40F to 45F as higher temperature or even room temperature will cause them to sprout and dehydrate. Root cellars are quite appropriate for providing this type of environment. Alternatively, potatoes can also be stored in a cool, dark closet or basement. They should not be exposed to sunlight as light triggers the formation of toxic Solanine. They should not be refrigerated as this will cause their starch to get converted into sugar giving them a sweet taste. Moreover, they should not be kept near onions because the gases which they emit will cause both the vegetables to turn bad. Also they should be kept in a burlap or paper bag. Mature potatoes have a shelf life of 2 months. They should be frequently checked to discard the sprouted or shriveled ones as they might adversely affect the quality of others. New potatoes, being more perishable can be stored up to a week. Cooked potatoes can be refrigerated for several days but it is advisable not to freeze them as they tend to become watery after reheating. Potato contains nearly 80% water which separates from the starch making the reheated potato dish watery.
Tips for Usage (Cooking/Eating)
Potatoes come in the category of the most delicious and filling vegetables that can match well with any ingredient. Not only are their skin edible, but also a great source of dietary fiber. Thus, they can be cooked with their skins to get the most nutrition value from this vegetable. The calories in potato is high but its also quite a healthy vegetable.
It is advisable to wash the potatoes just before cooking them. They should be scrubbed under cold running water and any deep eyes and bruises should be removed with a paring knife. If you are peeling them, you can do so with a vegetable peeler, removing only a thin layer of skin to retain the nutrients that lie just below the skin. Cleaned and cut potatoes should not be exposed to air to avoid any discoloration. If it is not possible to cook them immediately after cutting, they should be placed in a bowl of cold water to which you have added a little bit of lemon juice. This will prevent them from darkening as well as help maintain their shape during cooking. Moreover, they should not be cooked in iron or aluminum pots or cut with a carbon steel knife as they are sensitive to certain metals that may cause them to discolor.
Potatoes can be cooked in numerous ways. Given below are some of the tips by which you can make several delicious potato dishes.
- New potatoes are delicious when boiled. They can be drizzled lightly with olive oil and then dusted with dill weed.
- Cooked potatoes can be pureed with roasted garlic and olive oil to make delicious garlic mashed potatoes and season with your favorite herbs.
- Potatoes can be paired with chunks of tuna fish and steamed green beans dressed in oil and vinegar to prepare the classic dish ‘Salad Nicoise’.
- Potatoes can also be baked to make a delicious dish. For this purpose, scrub the potatoes well and pierce their skins with a skewer or a fork to allow the steam to escape. To make their skin crisp, you can rub them lightly with oil or butter. Leave them dry if you want tender skin. These should be placed in a pre-heated oven and baked for approximately one hour. Prick their skin to check their fluffiness.
- Potatoes can also be steamed by wrapping them in aluminum foil. Their texture is different from that of baked potatoes as they contain their own moisture.
- You can make a yummy dish combining mashed potatoes and butter. For this purpose, heat one tablespoon of butter for each potato until it melts and then add milk or light cream that has been heated but not brought to a boil. Mix this liquid with each potato to make them smooth and fluffy. Make sure not to overbeat the mixture so that the potatoes remain soft and moist but firm enough to hold their shape.
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