Skip to content

Potato (Potato) – Properties, Benefits, Origin, Types, Characteristics

Potato (Potato) - Properties & Benefits

Without a doubt, the potato is one of the most versatile and popular vegetables. Thanks to the first explorers, who found it for the first time in the high mountains of the Peruvian Andes, today this tuber is a staple in kitchens around the world. Keep reading below to know what potatoes are like, what are the different types , their characteristics , properties and benefits , possible contraindications , as well as the best way to take advantage of all their nutrients, among other curious facts about the “queen of tubers” .

What are potatoes or potatoes?

The potato or potato is an edible tuber native to the mountainous regions of the Andes, in South America, where the plant ( Solanum tuberosum ) has been cultivated for more than 10,000 years, since the time of the Inca empire. Currently, the potato is an international staple food, occupying nothing more and nothing less than the position of  fourth most distributed food crop in the world , after corn, wheat and rice.

Potato characteristics

  • The potato or potato is composed of  water in 80% .
  • Its texture is smooth and its coloration can vary between white, brown, yellowish and pink tones .
  • According to the Guinness Book of Records, the largest potato ever grown weighed 18 pounds. This event occurred in England in 1795.
  • Potatoes are the fourth most cultivated food in the world, after wheat, corn and rice; they are cultivated in more than 125 countries . It is said that the extension of land dedicated to the cultivation of this stub each year is equivalent to a four-lane highway capable of going around the world 6 times.
  • China is the world’s largest potato producer .
  • Due to its easy digestion , it plays a very important role in feeding the sick, convalescent people and children.
  • It was the first vegetable grown in space .
  • It is a totally gluten-free food .

Types of potatoes or potatoes

Due to the extensive cultivation of this plant, it is said that there are more than 5000 varieties, types and kinds of potato around the world , showing differences in color, size and flavor. We describe some of these varieties below.

  • Yellow potato . The yellow potato is a variety native to and mostly cultivated in the Peruvian Andes. It has a dry texture, hence it can be eaten pureed, boiled and baked. Yellow potatoes are said to contain more beta-carotene (vitamin A) than other varieties.
  • Black potato. Also known as “Tomasa negra” , this type of potato has a sweet taste and grainy texture. Due to the quality of its skin, it can brown more easily; This makes it a perfect option for making stuffed potatoes. This variety of potato is very popular in Spain, especially in the Canary Islands.
  • Creole potato. The Creole potato or chaucha is a variant of the yellow potatoes, whose peculiarity is that the tuber begins its sprouting immediately after being cultivated, without presenting a period of rest as it happens with the other types of potato. The cultivation of this variety is possible throughout the year.
  • White potato. Commonly known as “papa Tomasa” , it is characterized by being white with small dark areas; its flesh is white and somewhat tough. The crispy fries that we like so much are usually prepared using this variety.
  • Papa Yungay . The Yungay potato is very similar to the yellow potato; It grows in the Peruvian Andes and can be stored for a long period of time without losing its flavor.
  • Peruvian potato. Called “peruanita” , this type of potato is characterized by its two-colored skin tone and its splendid flavor.
  • Papa Huamantanga. This is a seasonal tuber that is grown only in the mountains, so its presence in the markets is limited. It shares similar characteristics with the other species of potatoes, for example, it looks very similar to the white potato but its flavor is the same as the yellow potato.
  • Pink potato. Also known as “ red potato or canchan potato” , it is distinguished by the pink tone of its skin; it has a nice flavor and works great for making stuffed potatoes.
  • Papa perricholi. The potato perricholi or potato perrichilo was created only 30 years ago and is one of the most sold varieties in the markets of Lima, Peru. It is similar to the white potato, sweet and watery, being ideal for frying. However, this potato does not change color or turn brown after peeling (it does not rust), which is why it is a popular choice in commercial kitchens and restaurants.
  • Pope Asterix. This variety is native to Holland. Its cultivation offers a relatively high yield, with tubers resistant to external damage and very durable.
  • Papa Tarmeña. Tarmeña potatoes are similar to Peruvian potatoes in appearance, but their inner flesh is creamy in color, not yellow. Its culinary uses are similar to the rest of the potatoes.
  • Papa Atlantic. This type of potato is native to the United States. It has white meat and is excellent for making chips, although its pot life is short.
  • Papa Kennebec. It is a low-cost variety that is mainly used for the production of packaged chips and powdered purees. It differs from the Kennebec potato because its flesh is yellow and it has a high storage capacity.
  • Papa Cherie. The skin of the cherie potato has reddish pigmentation; its flesh is tough and light yellow in color.
  • Papa Innovator. The innovator potato is popular in Europe, North America, and is characterized by its resistant properties against any internal defect. It is especially good to eat boiled, fried or baked.
  • Papa Russet Burbank. This potato is included in the generations after the Innovator potatoes; it offers greater resistance to bruising and, although its cultivation has genetic modifications, the tuber does not contain chemical substances that can be harmful to health.

Nutritional and nutritional properties of the potato

The potato is a multifunctional food, it is versatile in all its forms and preparations. In addition to being a highly energetic tuber, it has excellent nutritional properties thanks to its content of vitamins, minerals, and essential organic compounds.

  • Mineral content : they are rich in potassium, calcium, iron and phosphorus.
  • Vitamin content : they have large amounts of vitamin C, as well as vitamin A, vitamin B and vitamin P (bioflavonoids).
  • Water content: between 70 and 80% of the weight of a potato is represented by water.
  • Starch content: potato contains approximately 17% starch; it is one of the best sources of natural carbohydrates.

Nutritional information of the potato or potato (213 g) 1:

  • Calories: 163
  • Grease: 0.2 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Sodio: 13 mg
  • Potasio: 897 mg (25%)
  • Carbohydrates: 37 g (12%)
  • Dietary fiber: 4.7 g (18%)
  • Azúcar: 1.7 g
  • Protein: 4.3 g (8%)
  • Vitamin C: 70%
  • Calcium: 2%
  • Iron: 9%
  • Vitamin B-6: 30%
  • Magnesium: 12%

Importance, benefits, properties and uses of potatoes

The potato managed to become  one of the most important foods in the world . It is a basic ingredient in the preparation of typical recipes in almost all countries. Its commercialization has been increasing due to its easy cultivation, high yield, utility and nutritional properties. Its use is very extensive, both in the food sector, as in industry and medicine.

Health benefits of potatoes

The potato, regardless of the variety, has very beneficial properties for our health. Numerous studies and research on this tuber have observed that:

  • It has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer power
  • It is satiating and facilitates digestive processes, especially in people with diarrhea and other health problems
  • Strengthens the immune system and helps prevent common diseases
  • Relieves symptoms of rheumatism
  • Provides a large amount of energy and increases physical performance
  • Promotes weight gain
  • It is effective as a remedy for the skin, especially to combat spots, wrinkles, scars, acne, burns
  • Promotes proper brain function

Warning : It is important to control potato consumption, since its glycemic index is high. People who are obese, who are trying to lose weight or who suffer from diabetes, should moderate their regular consumption of potatoes.

All the details on this topic in: What Properties and Healthy Benefits does the Potato have?

Industrial uses of potato

Potato starch is widely used in the industry to make non-food products, such as packaging materials, creams, cosmetics, detergents, toothpaste, corrugated cardboard, wrapping paper, among others.

Tips to reduce nutrient loss in potatoes

  • Avoid peeling the potatoes before cooking. The skin reduces nutritional loss during the cooking process. The protein and mineral content under their skin is very high, so if you cook them after peeling, most of these nutrients will have been lost.
  • To boil potatoes, first heat the water until it reaches a boiling point and then add them . This will reduce cooking time and help maintain its vitamin C content.
  • Minimize the consumption of potato chips ; 75% of vitamin C is lost during frying, not to mention that French fries contain a high percentage of fat and cholesterol that are harmful to health.

Documentary video: The potato or potato

Contraindications and side effects

Although the potato is a good source of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and whole carbohydrates, there are some contraindications to be aware of.

  • Diabetic or pre-diabetic people . Potatoes, especially skinless potatoes, have a high glycemic index, which means they can spike blood sugar and insulin levels. Its regular or excessive consumption is not recommended in people with diabetes, as this prevents maintaining control of the disease and can result in long-term complications.2
  • Obese or overweight people . Due to its high carbohydrate content, potatoes can create spikes in blood glucose, increase feelings of hunger, the urge to eat between meals, and lead to weight gain. People who are already overweight or obese should avoid regular consumption of potato, especially potato chips.

Recommended Article: Does the Potato Get Fat or Slim? Myth vs Reality [Solved]

  • People who do not digest sugars and starches well . Almost all starches, except rice, stimulate the production of gases during digestion3 . Although it does not occur in the same way in all people, in some cases the potato can cause gastrointestinal problems (excess gas, pain and bloating), especially if you are prone to it, or sensitive to the sugars that occur naturally in starches. Eating high-fat potato recipes, eating too much potato, or eating it too quickly can cause similar adverse effects.
  • Allergic people . Cases of allergy to potatoes have been recorded, however this is not a common occurrence. People with a known allergy to sweet potatoes should be especially careful when eating potatoes.

Another contraindication to eating potato is related to the risk of inflammation. Although there is some scientific debate and there is not much evidence to confirm these suspicions, some research has suggested that potato consumption can contribute to inflammation and joint pain, especially when eating at night. These effects can be increased if the potato has not been stored correctly or if it is immature, since this increases the content of glycoalkaloids, a type of toxic substance with inflammatory action.4

In recent times it has become fashionable to drink raw potato juice to treat and prevent different health problems, however in this case it is also necessary to consider possible contraindications:

  • Risk of indigestion . The body does not digest these carbohydrates well when they are raw.
  • Excess gas and abdominal swelling . The carbohydrates in raw potatoes ferment and produce a lot of gas.
  • Intoxication . The alkaloids solanine and chaconine are toxic to the human body. Raw potato juice can cause diarrhea, headache, nausea, stomach cramps, thirst, and restlessness, among other side effects. In some rare cases it can even cause death5
  • Risk of infection . Consuming potatoes without cooking increases the risk of contracting infections caused by bacteria and other pathogens found in these types of tubers.

Note : the green potato should not be eaten raw or cooked.

Quick answers to frequently asked questions

What is the origin of the potato? Where does it come from?

The potato or potato is native to the mountainous regions of South America ; its ancestral cultivators were the Incas, approximately 10,000 years ago, in the highlands of Peru, in the Andes.

The first expansion of the domesticated potato occurred within the Americas, when the first Inca farmers from the highlands in southern Peru transported their crops further north to Central America and southern Chile.

The next major spread of the potato came as a result of the Spanish invasion of South America in the 16th century.

Evidence indicates that the first potatoes introduced into Europe came from the highlands of North South America, around Peru and Colombia. These areas were part of the Inca Empire, which was conquered by the Spanish in 1532. However, apparently the potato was not introduced directly into Continental Europe, but was cultivated for the first time in the Canary Islands. From there it spread to other European countries, including England, Belgium and France.

The British were responsible for bringing the potato to India and China in the late 1600s. Also at the end of this century the potato made its appearance in Africa and Japan. In 1769 it reached New Zealand, where it was quickly adopted by the Maori, who were already growing sweet potatoes .

How is the potato grown?

The potato is grown through its tubers, which can be planted whole or cut into pieces, always leaving a distance of 60 cm between them. Potato plants need frequent watering; the first irrigation should be administered immediately after sowing, and then at weekly intervals. This watering should stop a few days before harvest.

The size of the tuber (potato) usually increases until the vines become dry. At that moment the manual harvest begins digging the roots of the plant with a shovel. It is important to be careful so that the tubers are not injured during the process. After harvest, the potato should be kept in the shade.

What is the potato plant like?

The potato plant has a branched stem and alternately arranged leaves , with unequal sizes and shapes (they can reach 10-30 cm long and 5-15 cm wide). It produces white or blue flowers and yellow-green berries .

Potato tubers grow underground and are generally located in the first 25 cm of the ground; they can vary in color depending on the variety (yellow, red, purple).

Potato plants can reach more than 1 m in height. They are grown as annuals as they survive only one growing season.

What is the scientific name of the potato?

The scientific name of the potato is Solanum tuberosum.

How many ways can the potato be cooked?

Potatoes are such a versatile food that they can be cooked and eaten in numerous ways. Some of the most popular options are:

  • Potato cooked in chunks or mashed
  • French fry
  • As an ingredient in a soup or stew
  • Baked potato
  • Gratin with cheese

The potato can be used to make purees, creams, souffles, tortillas, doughs, flours, among other food preparations. It is even possible to obtain an alcoholic beverage through the potato fermentation technique.

Does boiled potato make you fat?

Potatoes are high in carbohydrates, which is why they are  a highly energy food. It may be ideal for thin people who want to gain weight, but it can be a bad option for those who do not want to gain weight.

Eating potatoes in moderation, as part of a balanced diet, does not cause weight gain. But if you eat excessively and are accompanied by a sedentary lifestyle,  the potato does make you fat ; in fact, this tuber constitutes an important food in the diet of sumo wrestlers and other athletes who need large reserves of energy to compete.

More details on this topic in: Does the potato make you fat or thin?

What is the glycemic index of potatoes?

The glycemic index value of potatoes depends on the cooking method. According to publications from the Harvard University Department of Health, a 150 gram baked potato has a glycemic index = 85, a boiled potato has a glycemic index = 78 and a potato chip has a glycemic index = 63.

Does the potato have protein?

Yes, but because it is a tuber, its protein content is not that high. Instead, the potato is an important source of carbohydrates, starches, and fiber. Either way, the amount of protein in a serving of potato is still significant; 1 potato of 213 grams provides 4.3 grams of protein.

Is the potato a vegetable, a vegetable or a vegetable? What kind of food is potato?

The potato is a vegetable, specifically a tuber.

All vegetables are vegetables (from or related to plants). Any food of plant origin that is grown and that is not fruit or cereal, is a vegetable. It should be noted that it is not the same as a vegetable. The term vegetable is broader than that of vegetable; The term “vegetable” refers strictly to the foods with tender leaves and stem, while vegetables include the leaves, roots, stems, fruits, seeds, bulbs, inflorescences, tubers, etc … of vegetables.

Is the potato a fruit?

Definitely not, the potato is a vegetable, and more specifically a stem tuber . The first characteristic that makes it possible to differentiate a fruit from a vegetable is that the fruits are born from the seeds (an avocado, a mango), while vegetables can be obtained from another part of the plant. The potato or potato is extracted from the tuberous stems of the potato plant, therefore it is not a fruit.

How many types of potato are there?

There are about 5,000 varieties, classes or types of potatoes around the world.6 Three thousand of them are found only in the Andes, mainly in Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Chile and Colombia. They belong to eight or nine species, depending on the taxonomic school. In addition to the 5,000 cultivated varieties, there are about 200 wild species and subspecies7 that, although they are too bitter to be used as food, the importance of their biodiversity includes natural resistance to pests, diseases and climatic conditions.

What family does the potato belong to?

The potato belongs to the Solanaceae family , a family of flowering plants that ranges from herbs to vines, lianas, epiphytes, shrubs, and even trees, and includes a number of agricultural crops, medicinal plants, spices, weeds, and ornamental plants. Some members of this family contain potent alkaloids and are highly toxic, but many, including tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, bell peppers, and chili peppers, and tobacco, are used for food.

The family belongs to the Solanales order, in the asterid group and Magnoliopsida class (dicotyledons).

What does the potato taste like?

The flavor of the potato will vary depending on how it is prepared, that is, baked, fried, boiled, mashed, etc., the type of potato or whether you eat it with or without skin.

Potato skin has an initial flavor that will make you think of the earth, no matter how clean the potato is. Texturally, it feels slightly thick and gritty and has a stringy consistency.

The inside of the potato has a pulpy texture, more similar to that of a radish. It is juicy (79% water) and its flavor is rather neutral, which can be slightly bitter (1 on a scale of 10).

What other names does it have?

Depending on the region, the Solanum tuberosum plant is known as potato, potato, or English sweet potato.

Many countries knew this tuber through Spain, which is why they adopted the term potato in their different languages. For example in France it is called ” pomme de terre” (land apple), or ” patate “.

The Quechua language calls the potato ” akshu “, while the Mapuche know it as ” poñu “.

What is the importance of potatoes in food?

Today, the potato is the fourth most important crop in the world in terms of its consumption as food, after rice, wheat and corn, and hundreds of millions of people in the world depend on this tuber for their survival.

According to UN projections, the world population will reach 8 billion in 2050, and more than 95% of this increase will occur in developing countries, where the pressures on land, water and other natural resources are already intense. . Potatoes provide more nutrition, on less land and faster, than any other major crop and as a result, their cultivation is vital for countries with growing populations and limited farmland, providing essential carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals in the diet of millions.8

The high nutrient content, ability to adapt to marginal environments, relative ease of cultivation, and low cost and high productivity are attributes that make potatoes one of the most important foods in the world.

Is there a difference between potato and potato?

No. “Potato” and “Potato” are words that are used interchangeably to refer to the same tuber depending on the region or country. In Spain, for example, it is common to refer to the potato as “potato”. However, in Latin America the potato retains its original name, that is, “potato” as it is called in the Quechua of the Andean region, its place of origin.

What is the difference between red potatoes and white potatoes?

The red potatoes are typically round, small to medium, and are covered with a soft, red skin. The white potatoes vary from small to large, with too many forms, from round to oblong and have a light brown skin color or white.

Red potatoes have a waxy, but creamy texture, while white potatoes are more starchy, with a slightly dense but still creamy texture.

While both red and white potatoes have mild and subtly sweet flavors, their different textures make each ideal for specific uses. The firm texture of cooked red potatoes makes them a tasty addition to salads, soups, and side dishes. White tubers hold their shape well when cooked and are most often used for frying and roasting. Although both can be mashed, the white ones produce velvety mashed potatoes that are more difficult to achieve with the red ones due to their waxy qualities.