Health benefits of humble spud

Potatoes provide the body with an essential source of fuel & energy, which you need even when dieting. As a rich carbohydrate source, they help to fuel all reactions in the body which you need for movement, thinking, digestion & cellular renewal. A new survey has revealed that after sugar, carbohydrates such as potatoes are one of the first things that those keeping an eye on their weight cut out. Here are explained some surprising health benefits of potato.

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Vitamin booster : Surprisingly rich in immune-boosting Vitamin C, a medium potato (150g) with the skin provides 27mg, almost half of the recommended daily intake. Potatoes are also a rich source of Vitamin B, foliate & minerals such as potassium, magnesium & iron. Potatoes are underground tubers, meaning that they store all the vitamins & minerals needed for growing new potato plants in spring. Rather than being bland & starchy, they're actually full of nutrients.

Lowering blood pressure : Researchers have found blood-pressure lowering molecules in potatoes called kukoamines. Traditional Chinese Medicine uses a plant, Lycium chinense which also contains kukoamines as a tea to lower blood pressure. While the precise quantity of potatoes you'd need to eat for a therapeutic effect has still to be measured, it is thought that a few good servings of potatoes a day would have some blood-pressure lowering activity.

Protecting cardiovascular disease : Many kinds of potatoes have flavonoids, which help protect against cardiovascular-disease by lowering levels of bad LDL-cholesterol and keeping arteries fat-free. The B vitamins in potatoes also protect arteries. Vitamin B6, found in potatoes, reduces levels of a molecule called homocysteine which is involved in inflammation and the furring up of arteries. High homocysteine levels are associated with a significantly increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

Good for Gut health : A single baked potato will provide nearly 12 % of the daily recommended amount of fibre, giving similar levels to whole grain breads, pastas & cereals. High levels of dietary fibre & bulking agents support healthy digestion & regular bowel movements, while giving a protective effect from colon cancer. While most potato fibre is found in the skin, some of the starch in potatoes is indigestible.

Instead it passes through the gut intact, adding bulk. If you suffer from sluggish bowel movements, eat cooked potatoes that have been cooled. The cooling process increases the amount of indigestible starch from seven per cent to 13 %.

Relieving stress : Potatoes are exceedingly rich in Vitamin B6, a substance needed for cellular renewal, a healthy nervous system and a balanced mood. Just 100g of baked potato contains 21 per cent of the daily value of the vitamin. It is used to make neurotransmitters substances that deliver messages from one cell to the next.

Neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine are needed for the regulation of mood and Vitamin B6 is needed to make them. It is also used to make adrenaline, hormones that help us respond to stress, and GABA, a substance linked to relaxation and a feeling of wellbeing.

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