What to Know About Green Potatoes

If you’ve ever let potatoes sit out too long, you may have seen them turn a green color. What does it mean when potatoes turn green, and are they still safe to eat?

About Potatoes

Potatoes are also called tubers and they grow in the ground. Potatoes contain many essential nutrients, including:

  • Potassium: A medium potato with the skin provides 620 milligrams of potassium. In fact, it’s considered one of the most potassium-rich foods available as one serving of potatoes provides 18% of the daily recommended amount of potassium.  
  • Vitamin C: You may think of orange juice when it comes to vitamin C, but it’s time to rethink. Potatoes have 45% of your daily recommended amount of Vitamin C.
  • Fiber: A medium potato has 2 grams of fiber, representing 8% of your daily recommended amount. 
  • Vitamin B6: A medium potato offers 10% of the daily recommended amount of vitamin B6. 
  • Iron: With only 6% of the daily recommended amount of iron, potatoes aren’t known for their iron content. Still, it’s a contributing nutrient that keeps you healthy, and every little bit counts.‌
  • Antioxidants: Potatoes contain phytochemicals like carotenoids that help protect cells in your body from damage. 

Keep in mind that the skin of the potato is just as healthy as the flesh of the potato. The skin contains half of the fiber, but most of the nutrients are in the flesh.

Why Do Potatoes Turn Green?

Potatoes contain two types of glycoalkaloids, which are natural toxins:

  • Solanine 
  • Chaconine

When your potatoes are exposed to light, these toxins form at a rapid pace. When you see green skin on a potato, it’s a sign of increasing toxicity. With the highest concentration in the skin and sprouts, it’s possible to remove the skin and reduce the number of toxins.

Keep in mind that heating your potato using any method does not eliminate toxins. If you have any of these symptoms after eating a green potato, talk to your doctor: 

  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Flushed skin 
  • Feeling confused
  • Fever 

Storing potatoes. Before you buy potatoes from the store, check to make sure they have no green spots. When you get the potatoes home, store them at a temperature colder than 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Continued

Potatoes can be stored out on your countertop, but they will spoil faster with constant exposure to light. By refrigerating your potatoes, you can ensure they go bad slower and last longer.

If you can’t put your potatoes in a fridge, place them in a cool, dark cabinet where they aren’t exposed to light. Ensure that the cabinet is away from your stove to protect the potatoes from heat.

Can you peel green potatoes? If you peel a green potato, you may notice the flesh isn’t green. These potatoes are still not safe to eat. A good rule to follow is that if a potato tastes bitter at all, it should be thrown away.

Pros of Green Potatoes

Green potatoes may not be bad. Don’t take color as the only indication that a potato is bad. Taste it first to be sure. If there are only a few green spots, cut them off and use the rest of the potato for your recipe.

Grow more potatoes. If you let your green potato sit long enough, it will begin to sprout. Potatoes may be planted in early spring. They grow best in direct sunlight and dirt that is loose and moist. A single stem may produce 20 potatoes under the ground.

Cons of Green Potatoes

They may be harmful. The development of solanine in green potatoes may upset your digestion and cause discomfort or worse. Solanine that is consumed in high quantities can lead to paralysis. Potatoes don’t usually have high enough levels of solanine to cause this kind of extreme reaction.

Bad taste. Green potatoes develop a bitter taste, making them unpleasant for recipes. If you accidentally bake or fry a green potato and taste the bitterness, throw the rest away. It’s better to err on the side of caution than risk your health.

WebMD Medical Reference

Sources

SOURCES:

Colorado San Luis Valley Potatoes: “Health & Nutrition.”

Food Safety Authority of Ireland: “Green Potatoes.”

International Potato Center: “How Potato Grows.” 

Michigan State University: “Is it safe to eat a green potato?”

National Capital Poison Center: “Are Sprouted Potatoes Safe to Eat?”

University of Nebraska-Lincoln Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources: “Green Potatoes: The Problem.”

© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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