How to tell if a potato is safe enough to eat

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Aug 21, 2017

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Quick Bites

  • Potatoes can produce Solanine, a toxin which can cause digestion problems.
  • Green and sprouting parts of potatoes have high concentration of solanine.
  • Mushy potatoes are not fit for consumption.

Potato is one vegetable that is universally liked. Irrespective of its bland taste, it is a great carrier of flavours and serves as a base for many traditional dishes worldwide. But certain indicators can be a warning sign and the non-threatening, humble potato might even harm your health. Here are the signs to look for to know is your potato is good enough to consume.

Green patches

Green patches on potato occur when they are exposed to light. The light causes the potato to produce chlorophyll, and chlorophyll is not a problem at all, we eat it regularly when we eat green veggies. However, the same conditions also trigger the potato to create solanine. Solanine is a toxin which when consumed can cause nausea, stomach pain and other digestion related problems.

You can still use the potatoes though, just make sure to completely remove the green part and you are good to go.

Sprouting potatoes

Another warning sign is when the potatoes start sprouting. The sprouted part of the potato is high in the neurotoxin solanine. Although you will have to eat a lot of sprouts to actually be affected by it, but why include toxins in our diet where we can avoid. Cutting out the sprouted part will make the potato fit to eat again. Note that once the potato starts growing shoots, the starch in the potato starts turning into sugar, which might make it a bit sweeter, an undesirable trait in potatoes.

Mushy potatoes

It is one thing when the potatoes are nice and firm and they turn green or grow sprouts. At that stage, you can cut off the undesirable part and use it. However, once your potato starts growing mushy and soft, its best to throw it away.
The good news is that there is a way to protect your potatoes from growing bad, that is the right storage conditions. Keep them in a cool, dark and dry place, out of plastic bags and they will stay good for long. Make sure to keep them away from onions, as onions will make them sprout faster. 

Image source: Shutterstock


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