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Potatoes Make You Fat? Herbal Use and Tradition

Αssociated Press

Farmer Ciriaco Huaman shows a handful of his potatoes in Pisac, southern rural Peru, Friday, Oct. 30, 2020. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)

When it comes to human nutrition, there are many ‘myth or truth’ examples or prejudices. The common rule is this: there is no ‘bad food’ produced by this Earth. Many internet ‘experts’ create movements of change in human nutrition, but after a while, returning to the basis of local culture is revealed as the one, timeless movement of food.

In Greece, Orthodox Easter is a mixture of traditions, customs, environmental peculiarities, cultural exchange, old habits and new ones – all survived and blended during this long history of the nation, with its ups and downs.

One of these are the food habits which prevailed as Greek orthodox fasting. Legumes, potatoes, olives, bread, wild greens and many others are the basis of fasting in Holy week. But not every plant is local. Potatoes have not been in Greece for more than 150 years. Kapodistrias brought the plant after the Greek revolution.

Potatoes (Solanum tuberosum) or ‘geomilo’ originated in South America. Geomilo is the Greek word of potatoes, meaning apple (-‘milo’) of the Earth (-‘geo’, ‘gea’ means Earth). But usually in Greece, we use the word ‘patates’, derived from the English word potatoes.

Potatoes are actually the expanded underground roots of the potato plant, which store starch as food for plant use. Starch is the main reason potatoes are considered nowadays to be “food that makes you fat.” But their hidden nutritional value and use as an herb is not well known.

According to the USDA, potatoes are rich in starch, but also rich in vitamin C, calcium, potassium, magnesium, fluoride, niacin, and folate. Also, the not-so-common varieties like purple or sweet potatoes, are richer. Boiled or roasted potatoes are lower in calories and richer in nutrition. As an ‘herb’ potatoes are used in many ways. Traditional Greek medicine proposes boiling 500 g of potatoes with their peal in 4 cups of water. The juices can be used by soaking a towel in them that is applied to rheumatisms and swellings. Rubbing or just putting slices of raw, cold potatoes on the skin, makes it fresh after a ‘hard night’ and they help with headaches. In the same way but trimmed and very cold, it helps with burns. Another great use is putting potatoes in a juicer machine. Drinking 2 tsps every morning can help you with stomach ulcers (maybe combined with royal jelly) and during the day as an antacid and spasmolytic.

For sure, each plant has its natural environment and distribution, but human globalization sometimes brings the best to human settlements everywhere.

* The above is not medical advice but mere suggestions for improving your diet. Before reach herbal use you should consult your doctor, especially those who have health issues, are pregnant or are under the age of 6.

Evropi-Sofia Dalampira holds a PhD Agricultural Economics, MSc Botany-Biology.