Potatoes — are they good or bad for you?

The potato is a perennial plant, which produces a starchy edible tuber. It is the fourth most important food crop in the world after after rice, wheat and corn

The potato originated in Peru. Introduced to Europe in 1536 where it became a daily staple for the people, potatoes gained popularity in Asian countries by sea trade

One third of a potato is water. Rich in carbohydrate, one potato contains about two grams of protein. Besides, it has potassium and vitamin-C and is rich in fibre

USDA says a potato has 94 calories, 15 g fat, 0 cholesterol, 21.08 g carbs, 2.1 g fibre, 2.10 g protein, 10 mg calcium, 0.64 g iron, 27 mg magnesium, 75 mg phosphorus, 12.6 mg vitamin-C, 544 mg potassium and 0.211 mg vitamin B6

Since a potato has less protein and more carbohydrate, it is recommended for lean and lanky people. The Vitamin C in potatoes helps those with low immunity

Vitamin C also serves as an antioxidant. The potassium content in potatoes is beneficial for people with cardiac problems and high blood pressure

Potato skin has fibre and starch, which prevent gastrointestinal inflammation. They are a good remedy for intestinal wounds and other stomach problems as well

The 25% magnesium and vitamin B available in a boiled potato help in brain growth of a foetus during pregnancy. Its folate content stalls growth of cancerous cells

Eating a boiled potato daily ensures availability of vitamin B6 in the body. The vitamin-C and carotene in potatoes also prevent scurvy in children

Whether a potato is bad or good for you mainly depends on how it is cooked. When overcooked or fried in oil, potatoes can be unhealthy

Studies say that when potatoes are cooked in temperatures beyond 120 degree celsius, they release a chemical known as acrylamide

Acrylamide in synthetic form is otherwise found in plastics, dyes and smoke from cigarettes and could cause cancer and affects reproductive systems and DNA

So, it is best to avoid fried potatoes. Medical practitioners advise that children are not fed French fries and chips for this reason

Senior citizens with lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, heart problems, kidney and gastrointestinal problems, and those with obesity, had better avoid potato

Importantly, never use potatoes that have sprouted. They are toxic and can cause diarrhoea and wounds in the intestines. Expecting mothers especially must avoid it