Never Eat Raw Potatoes, Potatoes Should Always Be Cooked
I can't tell you how many questions appeared on the internet asking if it is safe to eat raw potatoes. The answer is "no, do not eat raw potatoes". Potatoes must always be cooked. I don't care if you bake it, roast it, boil it, fry it, make french fries, or put it over an open fire. Heat must be applied. If not, you can get sick from eating raw potatoes.
While many vegetables can be eaten raw, white baking potatoes are not one of them. They should always be cooked. Although, not really a vegetable, mushrooms is another food that comes to mind that must be always cooked. Read why mushrooms should be cooked in my other article. Potatoes must be cooked for a different reason though.
Raw potatoes are very difficult to digest. Cooking breaks down the cellular walls of the potato so that the starch and nutrients can be accessed.
If uncooked, it would just passes through the upper digestive tract and settle in the colon where intestinal bacteria would start to ferment and digest it for you. This may cause bloating, gas, and general intestinal distress. Plus, potatoes tastes terrible when raw.
LiveStrong.com writes ...
"Like those in grain, the starches in potatoes are indigestible and provide little nutritional value unless they have first been cooked."
Cooking Decreases Nightshade Alkaloids
Potatoes are classified as nightshades which contain toxic alkaloids, such as solanine and chaconine.
Sensitive individuals and those with autoimmune conditions may want to avoid these alkaloids in the nightshade family. Cooking the potatoes does decreases these alkaloids by about 40 to 50%.
According to WHFoods.com, ...
"For non-sensitive individuals, the cooking of nightshade foods will often be sufficient to make the alkaloid risk from nightshade intake insignificant. However, for sensitive individuals, the remaining alkaloid concentration may be enough to cause problems."
Solanine Content in Potatoes
While the amount of solanine and chaconine is typically small enough for the non-sensitive individual to handle when the potato is cooked, the amount of solanine can be quite high in sprouted or green potatoes.
The green tinge in the potato comes from chlorophyll content. While chlorophyll is not harmful, the potatoes produces solanine at the same time that it produces the chlorophyll. So the green is an proxy indicator of the high solanine content which is harmful.
A bitter potato is also an indication of high solanine content. Spit it out if a potato tastes bitter.
As mentioned in DrBenKim.com ...
"If ingested in large quantities (3 to 6 mg per kilogram of body weight), solanine can even cause death."
Ouch, that's not good.
Never Eat Green Potatoes
Green potatoes, cooked or uncooked, should never be eaten due to its high solanine content.
At NutritionalMythBusters.com, they confirmed that eating raw potatoes is harmful and can make people sick. It writes ...
"Raw potato flesh is harmful as it has toxins and should not be eaten uncooked. ... Never use a potato with a green color, as even a nibble can result in ill effects like nausea and headaches. Eating even more of those toxins can lead to a coma and death. Even cooking does not completely destroy the negative effects of a green potato."
The article ends with this sentence...
"Eating raw potatoes, however, is very dangerous."
BackyardChickens.com, which advises people who to raise backyard chickens, even say to not give raw green potatoes peels to chickens due to the toxic solanine.
Foodborne Illness from Raw Potatoes
Because potatoes comes from the ground, it can absorb bacteria such as Listeria, E. coli and Salmonella from the soil and water. Just another reason to scrub, wash, and cook the potato well to kill off any foodborne bacteria.
Another LiveStrong article writes ...
"Potatoes can come in contact with harmful bacteria, such as E. coli, Salmonella and Listeria, that grows in the water or soil where it is produced."
CooksInfo.com got the right info on how to cook potatoes. Potatoes should be washed well before cooking. You can eat the skin or not, it is up to you -- provided that it is cooked. Green potatoes should go directly into the trash bin.
It writes ...
"When exposed to light, a potato springs to life and starts growing, turning green and sprouting spouts, like nature intended it to. In the process, though, the potato produces poisonous alkaloids that are not destroyed by cooking and that can make you very sick indeed. Don't fool around with this."
It also give a good tip about boiling the potato while the water is still cold. This give the insides of the potato time to cook before the outside is overcooked.
Same with Taro Root
Similarly, taro root must always be cooked. And do NOT eat the skin, it is toxic. In fact, just peeling the skin of taro can sting the hands of some people.