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Health Benefits of Potato

All those naughty children around the world, who dislikeeating any vegetable and hate them like anything, share another commoninterest. All of them like potatoes. This is the magic of the potatoes. Youwill hardly find anyone who dislikes them.

Today one cannot even imagine vegetables without potatoes.This shapeless and ugly looking tuber, bearing the scientific name SolanumTuberosum, has cast a spell on us. Potato lovers (including me), and those whodo not like them, will be equally delighted to know that potatoes have more instore for them than just carbohydrates and calories. Let us uncover them.

 

The health benefitsof potato include the following:

Weight Gain:Potatoes are mounds of carbohydrates and contain little proteins too. Thismakes it an ideal diet for those lean and thins who desperately want to put onweight. The vitamins like vitamin-C and B-complex also help in properabsorption of this carbohydrate. That is why they make an inevitable part ofthe diet of Sumo Wrestlers.

Digestion: Sincepotatoes predominantly contain carbohydrates, they are easy to digest andfacilitate digestion. This property makes them a good diet for patients, babiesand those who cannot digest hard food but need energy. But you must rememberthat eating too much of potatoes regularly may cause acidity in the long run.Potatoes also contain considerable amount of fiber or roughage, more in rawpotatoes and cold ones than boiled or hot ones.

Skin Care:Vitamin-C and B-complex and minerals like potassium, magnesium, phosphorus andzinc are good for the skin. Apart from that, pulp obtained from crushed rawpotatoes, mixed with honey, can serve as excellent skin and face packs. Thishelps even curing pimples and spots on the skin. Again, this pulp, if appliedexternally on burns, gives a quick relief and heals fast. Smashed potatoes,even water in which potatoes are washed, are very good for softening andcleaning skin, especially around elbows, back of the palms etc.

Scurvy: Thevitamin-C present in potatoes can help prevent this dreaded deficiency disease,caused due to lack of vitamin-C. It is characterized by cracked lip corners,spongy and bleeding gums, frequent viral infections like cold etc.

Rheumatism: Thereare two aspects of this factor. Vitamins, calcium and magnesium in potatoeshelp giving relief in rheumatism. Water obtained from boiling potato givesrelief in rheumatism. But due to high starch or carbohydrate content it tendsto increase body weight which may have adverse effects on rheumatic people.

Inflammation:Potato is very effective in inflammation, internal or external. Since it issoft, easy digestible and has a lot of vitamin-C (very good anti-oxidant andrepairs wears and tears), potassium and vitamin-B6, among others, it relievesinflammation of intestines and the digestive system. It is very good diet forthose who have mouth ulcers. Again, raw smashed potato can be applied torelieve external inflammation, burns etc.

High Blood Pressure:Since high blood pressure is caused due to a number of reasons, includingdiabetes, tension, indigestion, nature of food and many such, different are thecures. Potato can be used to relieve High Blood Pressure due to tension,indigestion etc. due to abundance of vitamin-C and B in it, but should beavoided if it is due to diabetes. The fiber present in it is helpful inlowering cholesterol and improves functioning of insulin in the body, whichaids to lowering of blood pressure, since there is a direct relation betweenthe blood pressure and the glucose level in the blood and insulin regulatesthis glucose level.

Brain Function:Proper functioning of the brain depends largely on the glucose level, oxygensupply, some members of the vitamin-B complex and some hormones, amino acidsand fatty acids like omega-3 fatty acids. Potatoes cater to almost all theneeds mentioned above. They are high in carbohydrates and thus maintain goodlevel of glucose in the blood which does not let brain fatigue creep in andkeeps the brain active and alert. Next is oxygen which is carried to the brainby the haemoglobin in the blood and whose main constituent is iron. Potatocontains iron too and thus aids to this function also. Next is the turn ofvitamin-B complex. Here again, potato is rich in vitamin-B6 and contains tracesof other members of this complex. In addition, it contains certain otherelements like phosphorus and zinc which are good for brain too.

Heart Diseases:Apart from the vitamins (B-complex, C), minerals and roughage, potatoes alsocontain certain substances called Carotenoids (lutein, zeaxanthin etc.) whichare beneficial for heart and other internal organs. But again, since it raisesthe glucose level in the blood and over intake may cause obesity, which in turncan put a lot of pressure on your heart; hence it is not recommended for obeseor diabetic people.

Kidney Stones:Kidney Stones, also known as Renal Calculi, are caused mainly due to raisedlevel of uric acid in blood. In such cases, high proteins should be avoided,particularly animal proteins such as meat, turkey, shrimps, sea fishes, eggs,milk etc. as well as spinach, raw plantain, black grams and certain beans,which drastically increase the level of uric acid in blood. Iron and calciumalso help form the stone. Potato is rich in both of these and normally seemsnot fit from this point of view. But it is very rich in magnesium which resistsaccumulation or deposition of calcium (calcification) in the kidney and othertissues, thereby proving beneficial for treatment of renal calculi.

Diarrhea: It is anexcellent energy-rich diet for those suffering from diarrhea, since it is veryeasy to digest as well as contains mild roughage. But an over intake may causediarrhea due to excess ingestion of starch.

Other Benefits and Cautions: Juice of potato is a goodtreatment for burns, bruises, sprains, skin problems, ulcers, effect ofnarcotics, cancer of prostrate and uterus and formation of cysts or tumors. Onthe other hand, some care also needs to be taken while eating potatoes. Greenpotatoes are poisonous, and so are potato leaves and fruits, as they containalkaloids like solanine, chaconine and arsenic whose overdose may prove fatal.Moreover, the glycemic index (in simple words, the energy or sugar content) ofpotatoes is very high (above 80) and so obese, diabetic and those who areslimming down should avoid eating potatoes. If eaten, potatoes are better bakedthan raw or fried.

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