Potato Benefits + Side Effects

By Adriane Marie •  Updated: 03/03/22 •  11 min read
potato benefits and side effects

Health

Potato health benefits may include:

Potatoes are…

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Environment

Water footprint: low, it takes 287 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of potatoes / 34 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of potatoes

Carbon footprint: moderate, 2.9 CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of potatoes, a car driving equivalent of 6.75 miles or 11 kilometers

Destruction: low, potato production is relatively sustainable, there is no known significant damage to air, water, land, soil, forests, etc. as long as pesticides have not been used, be sure to buy Non-GMO/organic, as toxic, chemical pesticides contaminate air, water, soil, etc.

Potatoes are…

Animals

Kills: none, potato production does not require any animals to be killed

Harms: none, potato production does not require any animals to be used

Indirectly kills or harms: none, no animals are indirectly killed or harmed from potato production as long as toxic chemicals have not been used, be sure to buy Non-GMO/organic, as pesticides harm and kill wildlife and ecosystems by contaminating soil, water, air and plants that animals eat

Potatoes are…

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Laborers

Health and safety: varies, overall, agriculture continues to be one of the most dangerous industries, farmworkers may be subject to dehydration, heat stroke, unprotected exposure to harmful, toxic chemicals and pesticides, unsafe machinery and clean drinking water may not always accessible

Living conditions: varies, laborers are often exploited, they may face tough working conditions including long hours in the sun and heat performing physically exhausting tasks, labor laws and rights may or may not be in place, even if worker protection exists, employer violations may go unreported, refugees and migrant workers are especially vulnerable to abuse and mistreatment, fearing consequences of job loss or deportation

Wages: varies, generally farmworkers earn meager wages, there are many cases of underpaid agricultural workers, wage theft and no overtime payment or benefits

Potatoes…

Where do most potatoes come from? 📍

The world’s top potato producing country is China, followed by India and Russia.

The United States is the fifth largest producer of potatoes in the world.

In the United States potatoes are grown commercially in 30 states, but Idaho grows more potatoes than any other state, followed by Washington. North Dakota, Wisconsin, and Colorado.

The world’s top potato exporting country is Germany, followed by France, Canada, USA, Spain, Netherlands, Egypt, Pakistan, Belgium and UK.

Are potatoes nutritious? 🥗

Yes! Potatoes contain a good amount of carbs and fiber, as well as vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium and manganese.

potatoes are alkaline with skins and acidic peeled.

acidic foods and alkaline diet benefits that improve ph levels

Are potatoes alkaline or acidic?

Potatoes are alkaline with the skins or only the skins and acidic without the skins.

What is the pH level of potatoes?

Potatoes have a 7.5 pH level with skins, 9.5 pH level if potato skins only and 6.0 pH level when peeled or without the skins.

When you eat food, it breaks down to an ash residue that can be neutral, acidic or alkaline. Minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, zinc, silver, copper and iron produce an alkaline ash; whereas sulfur, phosphorus, chlorine and iodine, which are in meat, coffee, dairy and alcohol, leave an acid ash.

Going alkaline easier than ever with this: Acidic and Alkaline Foods List

potatoes are gluten free.

glutinous foods have side effects but a gluten free diet can help

Are potatoes gluten free?

Yes, potatoes are gluten free. Potatoes do not contain gluten. Potatoes is a type of root vegetable, therefore making it a naturally gluten free food. 

While celiac disease may not be as rampant as many marketing trends lead us to believe, you may have a gluten sensitivity…

Celiac and gluten sensitivity symptoms are similar and may include:

There are hundreds of potential symptoms, many of which are also symptoms of other conditions.

Going gluten-free easier than ever with this: Gluten and Gluten Free Foods List

potatoes are not a common food allergen.

side effects of common food allergens like milk, wheat, soy, fish, tree nuts, peanuts, eggs and crustaceans

Are potatoes a common food allergen?

No, potatoes are not a common food allergen. Some people may experience allergic reactions to potatoes but it is relatively rare by comparison.

A group of the eight major allergenic foods, AKA the Big-8, include:

Severe food allergies can be life threatening. Following ingestion of a food allergen, a person with food allergies can experience a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. 

Persons may still be allergic to and have serious reactions to foods other than the eight foods identified by the law.

Be aware of common dietary restrictions and food allergens with this: The Big 8 Most Common Food Allergens List

potatoes are part of the dirty dozen.

dirty dozen foods that get the most pesticides

Are potatoes part of the dirty dozen?

Yes, potatoes are part of the dirty dozen foods that should only be bought organically.

The dirty dozen refers to twelve types of produce that receive the heaviest amounts of pesticides. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) updates the list annually to publish the latest trends in agriculture.

An organic diet is always preferable, as there is less exposure to problematic pesticides and toxic chemicals which are not only beneficial to health but undoubtably the environment as well. 

Health conditions that are linked to pesticide exposure are: diabetes, cancer and neurological defects like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s,  amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), birth defects, and reproductive disorders; not to mention laborers employed in agriculture that touch and breathe in pesticides, making them vulnerable to acute and chronic poisoning. 

Consumers are advised that if they don’t tend to purchase organic foods regularly, then at the very least they should opt for organic when shopping for the dirty dozen fruits and vegetables, the latest list consisting of: strawberries, spinach, kale, nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery, potatoes.

Buying organic ensures the farmers have met strict guidelines to produce safe food that is best for minimal toxin exposure and overall health.

Here’s an excellent resource for further information on pesticides: Poisoning Our Children: The Parent’s Guide to the Myths of Safe Pesticides by André Leu

potatoes are a nightshade food.

nightshade vegetables and foods include tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and more

Are potatoes a nightshade food?

Yes, potatoes are a nightshade food.

Check out this Nightshade Foods List to see them all.

Reactions associated with nightshade allergies are digestive issues, dry mouth, confusion, vomiting and visual disturbances. People with a nightshade intolerance have reported the following symptoms shortly after eating the aforementioned foods: hives or skin rash, shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, tightness of the throat and pale skin.

Nightshade vegetables provide excellent nutrition, so there is no need to stop eating them unless you suspect you are sensitive to nightshade foods. If so, eliminate them from your diet to see if symptoms disappear. 

Here’s an excellent resource for further information on food intolerances: The Elimination Diet: Discover the Foods That Are Making You Sick and Tired by Tom Malterre and Alissa Segersten, MS, CN 

potatoes have a low water footprint.

water footprints of food and products

Do potatoes have a high or low water footprint?

Potatoes have a relatively low water footprint compared to other foods.

What is the water footprint of potatoes?

It takes 287 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of potatoes / 34 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of potatoes.

Did you know that water is a finite, non-renewable resource?

How much water does it take to produce an apple? A serving of rice? A steak dinner?

We need to be aware of “water footprints”. That is, the amount of fresh water utilized in the production or supply of goods we consume. As it turns out it takes significantly more water to yield foods that come from animals than foods that come from plants. Imagine how much water a cow needs to consume to generate a piece of beef. Not only how much water a single cow drinks, rather all the water that went into producing the crops that the cow ate.

Find out how much water your food consumes with this: Water Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

potatoes have a moderate carbon footprint.

carbon footprints of food and food emissions

Do potatoes have a high or low carbon footprint?

Potatoes have a relatively moderate carbon footprint compared to other foods.

What is the carbon footprint of potatoes?

It takes around 2.9 CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of potatoes, a car driving equivalent of 6.75 miles or 11 kilometers.

Food not only has a water footprint but also a carbon footprint, known as CO2e, which stands for carbon dioxide equivalent. Since carbon measurements are a bit more difficult to comprehend, it is common to equate CO2e to the distance which a car drives in miles or kilometers.

When calculating carbon emissions, some factors may include…

But that’s not all!

It’s best to keep the following in mind when grocery shopping:

Find out how much carbon your food emits with this: Carbon Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

potatoes are sustainable.

sustainable shopping, for eco friendly brands and products good for the environment

Overall, are potatoes eco friendly? Are potatoes sustainable?

Potato production is relatively sustainable since there is no known significant damage to air, water, land, soil, forests, etc. as long as pesticides have not been used. Be sure to buy non GMO/organic, as toxic, chemical pesticides contaminate air, water, soil, etc. when using regenerative practices.

A 2018 Oxford University study – which is the most comprehensive analysis to date of the damage farming does to the planet – found that ‘avoiding meat and dairy is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on Earth’ as animal farming provides just 18% of calories but takes up 83% of our farmland.

Consuming animal products and byproducts is not environmentally friendly and is one of the worst things for the Earth. Not only is meat production wasteful, it causes enormous amounts of pollution. The industry is one of the biggest causes of climate change.

potatoes are vegan.

benefits of vegan food to eat on a vegan diet which helps save animals

Are potatoes vegan?

Yes, potatoes are vegan. Potatoes are a vegetable and not an animal product or byproduct, therefore making it a vegan food. 

Animals of factory farming are suffering. They live in horrific conditions that often include confinement, physical abuse and unnatural environments…so much so that they need to receive antibiotics to keep from getting ill or spreading disease. Growth hormones allow all kinds of animals to become fatter faster and live short lives.

Because we cannot see for ourselves how these animals live and what they endure does not mean it isn’t happening. The meat, poultry and dairy industries do everything they can to distance us from knowing how our food comes to be in order to keep us in the dark about what we support each time we buy animal derived products and byproducts.

Go vegan for animals!

It’s the best way to help animals and it’s not as difficult as you may think. Speak for animals with your actions, for they cannot speak at all.

Going vegan is easier than ever, at a glance with this: Vegan and Non-Vegan Foods List

potatoes may or may not have labor issues.

benefits of buying fair trade, labor rights, human rights and workers rights issues

Are potatoes a product with laborer concerns?

At this time there are no major concerns with potato production but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening! It’s important to stay aware of human rights concerns and worker exploitation that may come with specific brands.

Did you know the single largest employer in the world is agriculture? The labor involved behind each and every product cannot go unrecognized. 

Some known problems include workplace health and safety, child labor, gender inequality, inadequate pay, wage theft and exploitation. Workers can even experience harassment, humiliation and violence and unfair employers often fail to provide laborers with access to shade, drinking water, restrooms and breaks. Consequently, laborers can face nausea, dizziness, heat exhaustion, dehydration and heat stroke -the leading cause of farmworker death! 

Such mistreatment is like modern day slavery. Workers are often afraid to report issues because they fear it will result in losing their jobs or deportation. 

Fair trade organizations fight to ensure better social, environmental and economic standards. 

We can improve people’s lives with foods we eat every day simply by buying products that are certified fair trade. 

Sources:

Potato: Nutrition – SNAP-Ed Connection

Potatoes, russet, flesh and skin, raw

Potatoes Grades and Standards | Agricultural Marketing Service

Adriane Marie

Self-proclaimed Grocery Guru, Material Maven and all around Conscious Consumer Connoisseur. I organize ethical info for us to comprehensively see how purchases impact people, animals and the planet. I hope you find HEALabel helpful and use it for personal and global improvement and empowerment.

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