Potato – Properties and health benefits / medicinal uses

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The healing and therapeutic properties of potato are discussed in this article.

Botanical name: Solanum Tuberosum L.
Other names: Irish potato, White potato
Spanish names: Patata, Papa, Criadilla de tierra
French names: Pomme de terre

Potato is the tuber of the potato plant, Solanum tuberosum L., a herbaceous plant of the botanical family Solanaceae. The potatoes are not formed from the roots of the plant, but rather from the thickening of the stalks underground.
Today, potato is the most cultivated vegetable in the world with more than 1,200 varieties. Its cultivation reaches an average of 270 million metric tons per year.



As a great medicinal food, potato contains almost all nutrients in significant amounts. It is only deficient in fats, vitamin E, vitamin B12, provitamin A and calcium. Its content are as follows:

Carbohydrates – The carbohydrate in potato is primarily made up of starch, which represents 16% of its total content. Fructose, sucrose and glucose are also present but in small amounts, representing only 0.4% of its total content.
NB: The starch in potato is easily digested, and does not cause flatulence.

Proteins – Potato contains significant amount of proteins, about 2% of its total content. The proteins in potato are of high biological value, as they provide all the amino acids in adequate proportion needed by the body to foster growth. The richness of potato in an amino acid known as lysine, which is usually deficient in grains, makes its consumption together with grains recommended.

Vegetable fiber – Potatoes are rich in soluble vegetable fiber, representing about 1.6% of its total content. Just about 300g of this great medicinal food, provides one-fifth of the daily fiber needed by the body.

Vitamins – Potatoes are quite rich in B complex vitamins, especially vitamin B1 and B6. It also contains significant amounts of vitamin C, which although may lost part of this vitamin in cooking process. The most amount of this vitamin is lost when they are fried, and the least when they are steamed.

Minerals – Potatoes are poor in calcium, but rich in manganese, copper, zinc, and other trace elements. They are also rich in potassium, and low in sodium, thus, making them appropriate for those suffering from hypertension and cardiovascular diseases.

Health benefits / medicinal uses of Potato

From the above properties, we have seen potato as a rich medicinal food with outstanding amount of nutrients. This makes it indicated in the following cases:

Stomach disorders

Potato is said to be the stomach’s best friend. This is primarily due to two important factors:
* Its antacid effect – Since potatoes are a significant alkaline food, they become capable of neutralizing excess acid. This effect is produced in the stomach, blood and even urine.
* Sedating substances – From series of research conducted at laboratories in different parts of the world, potato has been shown to contain small amounts of various sedative substances which are widely used in pharmaceuticals. These natural sedative substances act locally in the stomach, and in-turn relaxes it.
Additionally, the physical nature of potato is also considered as a factor, because the soft texture of potato reduces the need for digestive effort in the stomach.

From the above reasons, the consumption of potato mainly in puree form, becomes recommended and beneficial in cases of gastritis,stomach prolapse, nervous stomach, stomach ulcer, and stomach conditions in general.

Kidney disease

As we have seen above, potato possess an antacid effect, which gives it the ability to alkalize the blood and urine, aiding the elimination of toxic substances. Doing this, they relieve the kidney’s work and most importantly, purify the blood. Thus, the consumption of potato is beneficial in cases of arthritis, kidney stones, metabolic acidosis, and excess uric acid.


The consumption of potato does not in anyway cause obesity, but can be very useful in fighting it for some reasons.
* Potatoes are rich in B group vitamins, which help metabolize carbohydrates and minerals that prevent fluid retention in the tissues, which in-turn contributes to obesity.
* The consumption of potato also produces a sense of satiety which reduces the desire to continue eating. This paves way for a lesser consumption of food, and at the same time satisfaction is also achieved.

Cardiovascular disease

Since potatoes are lacking in fat, low in sodium and rich in potassium, they become ideal in cases of arteriosclerosis, hypertension, angina (heart attack), and heart failure.

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Abbati is a student from the department of Biological sciences, Ahmadu Bello Univeristy, Zaria. He loves learning about the medicinal properties of foods, and the need to explore them!

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