Many people store veggies in a cool place such as the fridge, the garage etc, the theory being that this helps them last longer and the cooler the better. Unfortunately, this is not the case with potatoes. I often come across clients that store their potatoes in the fridge as standard. When potatoes get chilled, the starch turns to sugar and they become tough. Although they look okay, when they are cooked there is a risk that they can emit harmful properties that they wouldn’t have if they were stored correctly. They can even become potentially toxic.
Basically, when a potato has been chilled, the sucrose (sugar) contained within them is broken down by an enzyme named invertase and converted into fructose and glucose which is the main sugar manufactured by your body and your chief source of energy. Potatoes also contain the amino acid asparagine and when this is combined with the fructose and glucose it forms acrylamide when they are baked or heated in anyway. When amino acids and sugars react together they produce thousands of different chemicals and starchy foods particularly, contain high levels of acrylamide when browned or baked to a high temperature above 120 degrees C. This can also happen in vegetables, grains and even coffee. Foods containing high levels of carbohydrates are most likely to bring about this chemical reaction.
Several years ago, the Swedish National Food Authority named acrylamide as a genotoxic carcinogen linked to an increased risk of cancer. As with any chronic illness, there are many factors to consider such as weight, lifestyle, environment and lack of nutrients. Raw food is a great way of consuming nutrient rich foods without heat removing some of the nutrient dense values. A daily smoothie is a wonderful way of getting raw foods into your body.
Most processed foods, because they've been subjected to high temperatures, contain acrylamide. Crisps are a perfect example.
You can also reduce acrylamide formation by soaking raw potatoes in water for 15 to 30 minutes before cooking.
Sweet Potatoes contain two important antioxidant enzymes: copper/zinc superoxide dismutase and catalase. The dark flesh colour also contains beta-carotene, another important antioxidant which is converted to vitamin A in your body and helps protect your eyesight.
The purple sweet potato variety contains more than three times the antioxidant power due to anthocyanins, also related to their pigmentation, which help fight several types of cancer, including stomach, colon, lung and breast.
In their unprocessed form, white potatoes provide nutrients such as vitamin C, copper, B vitamins, potassium, manganese, phosphorus and fibre, along with antioxidant phytonutrients.
In conclusion potatoes are fine as long as they are, stored correctly, not eaten excessively, not overcooked/burnt and I would always recommend eating the skins and choosing organic.
By Debbie Goodridge
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