You can eat raw potatoes, as the are not toxic, but it may cause upset stomach.The starchy texture and the bitter taste are unappealing to many.
Is it bad for you?
There is no question that potatoes contain rich nutrient sources that provide you energy and improves your health regardless of how you consume them. However, you should be cautious about eating them raw, especially if it has a green hue.
Apart from the health benefits of consuming them raw, the presence of solanine and lectins outweigh those benefits because they are harmful compounds. A chemical compound called glycoalkaloids commonly found on potatoes might be toxic when consumed in high amounts. Exposure to sunlight increases glycoalkaloids.
So, when you consume glycoalkaloids in high amounts, the toxicity includes itchiness, drowsiness, and digestive issues. Moreover, lectins interfere with the absorption of nutrients and the digestive system. While the resistant starch found on raw potatoes can provide health benefits, it is responsible for digestive problems as well.
An aching stomach, gas, and bloating are associated with resistant starch. Apart from that, raw potatoes might contain bacteria and contaminants from the soil and increase the chances of infection and illness.
Why you may crave them
If you have ever consumed a piece of uncooked potato while chopping some of them for a stew or soup, you may know what an interesting flavor it is when uncooked. So, when it comes to consuming raw potatoes, many people love the flavor.
Another reason to crave is that uncooked potatoes have many health benefits associated with them. And, some people like the concept of eating them raw to get those benefits. However, people might like crunching them, but it comes with a considerable amount of side effects.
Pros and cons of eating raw potatoes
Eating a raw potato isn’t bad all the time. Here are some reasons why it is good to consume a raw potato occasionally.
- Rich in vitamin C – Cooking potatoes makes them tastier. However, it can result in the loss of certain nutrients. Potatoes contain an abundance of vitamin C. However, the vitamin gets destroyed when exposed to higher temperatures. Munching a raw potato increase the intake of vitamin C to a great extent.
An uncooked potato contains fewer carbohydrates and calories. As such, it doesn’t raise your blood sugar levels as opposed to a cooked potato. This is an important factor when you are trying to lose weight.
- Presence of raw starch – As you know, an uncooked potato has resistant starch. While it takes some time for your body to digest, it is a food source for the intestines. In short, it acts as a healthy bacteria for your gut.
And, it has been associated with other health benefits such as improving insulin sensitivity and lowering blood sugar levels. Moreover, the resistant starch gets converted to butyrate. And, decreases the risk of colon cancer cells.
Cooked potato isn’t a great source of resistant starch because the cooking process takes the starch level down to 2 to 4%. Whereas, raw potatoes contain starch content between 47 and 59%. Compare to sweet potatoes.
- Vitamin B6 content – A raw potato contains about 18% of the DV of vitamin B6. According to several types of research, it plays an important role in hemoglobin formation, immune function, and brain function. Also, they are good sources of minerals that come with 18% of the DV of iron. And, it supports brain health and muscle growth.
- High in fiber – A serving of an uncooked potato about 3.5 ounces contains about 2.5 grams of fiber. While t is an important part of a plant’s body, the human body can digest a minimal part. Fiber moves throughout the digestive system unchanged and pushes food along.
Fiber reduces the absorption of cholesterol in your bloodstream. As such it helps in reducing the cholesterol needed for better health. According to a Harvard report on public health, Americans consume about 15g of fiber daily, whereas the per day requirement should be about 20 to 30g daily.
Although the resistant starch and micronutrient content in a raw potato are higher, it doesn’t mean that you should gobble down a few regularly. Here are some reasons that explain why potatoes shouldn’t be eaten raw.
- Toxicity – One of the greatest reasons why you shouldn’t eat raw potatoes is that they are toxic. As you know, an uncooked potato contains solanine, which is a natural toxin. While potatoes, both cooked and raw contain solanine, the potatoes that are more exposed to sunlight and have turned green have solanine in higher amounts.
Cooking the potatoes, microwaving, or even baking them reduces the concentration levels of solanine. Moreover, solanine in higher amounts can cause headaches, nausea, diarrhea, or even death in critical conditions.
- Problems with digestion – Experiencing a few digestive issues after eating raw potatoes is nothing new. Because potatoes have rich carbohydrate content, the human digestive system isn’t built to break them effectively.
These starchy carbohydrates are indigestible until they are cooked. Moreover, they don’t provide any kind of nutritional value. Because the human body finds them hard to digest, you can experience uncomfortable cramping, gas production, and bloating.
- Hinders nutrient absorption – Munching on a raw potato might hamper your metabolism when it comes to absorbing nutrients from other foods. An uncooked potato contains anti-nutrients that inhibit enzymes in your body.
Can dogs eat them?
Never feed dogs with a raw potato. While they are a healthy option for humans, it is best not to feed an uncooked potato to your dog. That’s because of the harmful chemical compounds present in them. Certain vegetables such as eggplant, tomatoes, and potatoes produce solanine.
Even in small amounts, dogs can have symptoms that are similar to food poisoning. Moreover, eating a green-skinned potato, whether raw or cooked should never be feed to dogs. The poisoning could cause gastrointestinal upset, breathing difficulties, and heart problems.
So, whenever you feed your dog with potatoes, it should be either boiled or baked. And, nothing added to them. Potato chips, French fries, or combined with salt or butter are unhealthy for dogs. However, boiled or baked potatoes should be given in moderation. Sometimes, giving them carbohydrates in excess can result in obesity and cause further health problems.
What foods should you never eat raw
Consuming fresh veggies such as cucumbers, broccoli, or carrots is better than snacking potato chips. While certain foods have to be cooked to taste better, others can have adverse side effects if consumes raw. Here are some foods that you shouldn’t consume raw.
- Rhubarb leaves – The rhubarb leaves contain a toxin element called oxalic acid. When you eat them raw, it can result in serious kidney damage or death. The symptoms include difficulty in breathing, stomach pain, red urine, eye pain, vomiting, nausea, and burning sensation in your throat or mouth.
- Sprouts – Raw sprouts contain harmful bacteria that include listeria, E.coli, and salmonella. Moreover, you should buy sprouts from the place you trust. And, children, elderly people, and pregnant women should avoid eating them.
- Taro – The taro root has lots of vitamin E, vitamin C, calcium, potassium, and traces of minerals. But eating raw isn’t wise. The presence of calcium oxalate makes your mouth feel numb if consumed raw and can even make you choke.
- Chaya – While Chaya has similar nutritional value and taste as spinach, it is dangerous to consume uncooked. Chaya has hydrogen cyanide in abundance and when consumed in excess amounts can cause death due to oxygen deprivation.
- Mushrooms – While some variants of mushrooms can be consumed raw, others could be poisonous and cause gastrointestinal problems if they are not cooked properly.
What does cooking do
Raw potatoes have a kind of resistant starch in them. So, when you consume them uncooked, your body can’t break them properly. As such, it causes a problem to your digestive system. However, when potatoes are cooked in the right way, it undergoes a gelatin process.
This helps the resistant starch to break down effectively. As a result, the cooked potato helps in proper digestion. The resistant starch found in raw potatoes causes uncomfortable symptoms in your body such as abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and gas.
Moreover, cooked potatoes reduce the ant nutrient content and help to optimize nutrient absorption. So, it is recommended not to consume raw potatoes.
Eating raw potatoes might result in digestive issues because they may contain harmful compounds and ant nutrients. The bottom line is that you can eat raw potatoes, but it is wise to do so sparingly.