It is often said that potatoes do not carry much nutrition and are full of sugar and starch. However, they are also a good source of potassium, manganese, and resistant starch. They have a good variety of phytonutrients that are beneficial in our fight against free radicals, which can lead to cancer. Of course the colorful potatoes are higher in these beneficial substances, but that doesn’t mean the lowly white potato is useless!
Studies show that the antioxidants in potatoes can help to lower blood pressure, similar to goji berries. The fiber and resistant starch in potatoes help keep things moving which can have a protective effect on the gut and aid in mineral absorption. Resistant starch forms butyric acid, a form of short-chain fatty acid that feeds beneficial flora and fights inflammation. They help to protect against respiratory issues, cancer and cardiovascular disease. The B6 in potatoes help our bodies produce hormones that help with depression, sleep, and stress reduction. And we wonder why they are a comfort food to so many! They also help reduce homocysteine levels which in turn reduce our risk for heart attacks, strokes and even Alzheimer’s.
The best thing about potatoes is that people love to pair them with fats, and this is no doubt the best way to eat them! It is important to avoid “fat-free” products when you are loading your potatoes up, instead opt for pure butter, cheese, cream or sour cream, and bacon. Don’t be shy–pile them on!
The problem with potatoes is that we do not prepare them properly. This is important if we want to avoid negative effects of potatoes and maximize the nutrients we get from them. Proper preparation increases our ability to digest them, which makes them more nourishing.
When we cook potatoes in certain ways, they are high in acrylamides which can lead to cancer. These methods include the most popular ones like frying, grilling and baking in any way other than whole. Potatoes also contain anti-nutrients like phytic acid, which can actually block mineral absorption. Potatoes often have mold that we cannot see, and while many say it is OK to just cut off mold and carry on, I do NOT agree. Yeast, fungi, mold, whatever you want to call it, creates toxins. These toxins are not necessarily destroyed by cooking. However, lactic acid bacteria CAN reduce toxins! The process of soaking and fermenting encourages lactic acid bacteria growth to begin working on making the potato a healthy addition to our diets. These bacteria can reduce toxins like Aflatoxin and even heavy metals!
The good news is that you can you can lower or eliminate these deterrents to health by soaking your potatoes! For example, you can reduce acrylamide by 48% with only 2 hours of soaking!1 Soaking and fermenting potatoes also reduces the starch content and makes them less of a shock to a diabetic’s system. Serve with plenty of healthy fats to help balance blood sugar.
In a pinch, I’ll soak my potatoes for at least 3 hours, but usually I’ll plan in advance to ferment them for 24 hours or more. After soaking, you will want to rinse the potatoes. You may then choose to dry them thoroughly depending on how you plan to prepare them.
Have you begun soaking your potatoes yet? If you do, let me know how you like the difference!
1Society of Chemical Industry (2008, March 9). Soaking Potatoes In Water Before Frying Reduces Acrylamide. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 3, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2008/03/080306075222.htm