How green is too green for a potato?

In this brief guide, we will answer the question “how green is too green for a potato?” with an in-depth analysis of how green is too green for a potato?. Moreover, we will also discuss what makes potatoes green and what are the effects of eating green potatoes on health.

How green is too green for a potato?

Green or slightly darker tones of green are considered too green for potatoes. The green color of potato is due to the presence of chlorophyll, which is an indicator of the production of a chemical toxin called solanine. Darker the green color of a potato, the greater the quantity of solanine.

It is suggested that doses of 200–400 mg of solanine for adult humans can cause toxic symptoms. The toxic quantity of solanine is  20–40 mg for children. Most commercial potatoes have a solanine content of less than 0.2 mg g−1.

There is no specific amount of Solanine or the intensity of green color that is safe to eat. However, Solanine levels do not reach a toxic level in your body until consumed in large amounts. Solanine has a bitter taste, which indicates that this potato is not safe to eat.

How much green on a potato is safe?

A recent study suggested that a 16-oz (450-gram) fully green potato is enough to make a small adult ill. Taking green potatoes in minute quantities is acceptable until it does not make you sick. Cooking does not destroy the solanine toxin, so the green parts of potatoes should be removed entirely.

What causes the potatoes to turn green?

When potatoes are exposed to light, they produce chlorophyll, a pigment that turns potatoes green. Chlorophyll itself is completely harmless, but it can signal the presence of a toxin called solanine which is quite toxic.

How does solanine make green potatoes toxic?

Green potatoes can be toxic due to the presence of solanine. Solanine, the main toxin that potatoes produce, works by inhibiting an enzyme involved in breaking down certain neurotransmitters. It also acts by damaging cell membranes and can negatively affect your intestine’s permeability.

Solanine is normally present in low levels in the skin and flesh of potatoes, as well as in higher levels in parts of the potato plant. Yet, when exposed to sunlight or damaged, potatoes produce more of it.

How much solanine can prove fatal for you?

Ingestion of solanine in moderate amounts can cause death. One study suggests that doses of 2 to 5 mg/kg of body weight can cause toxic symptoms, and doses of 3 to 6 mg/kg of body weight can be fatal.

Which potatoes have less solanine?

Apparently but not always, potatoes with light green colour have less solanine in them. 

Cooking does not destroy solanine but deep-fried potatoes exhibit lower levels of solanine.

Deep frying potatoes at 170°C (338°F) is known to effectively lower glycoalkaloid levels because they move into the frying fat, as does boiling, because solanine is water-soluble, while microwave cooking is only somewhat effective, and freeze-drying or dehydration has little effect.

How do you know if your potatoes have solanine?

The tuber is turning green. Though the green color that forms on the skin of a potato is chlorophyll, which isn’t toxic at all (it’s the plant’s response to light exposure), the presence of chlorophyll indicates concentrations of solanine.

You can read more about solanine here.

Is it fine to eat potatoes that are a little green?

Although the green colour itself is not harmful, it may indicate the presence of solanine. Peeling green potatoes can help reduce solanine levels, but once a potato has turned green, it’s best to throw it away.

How many green potatoes can make you sick?

While solanine is present in trace amounts in normal-looking potatoes, a 200-pound person would need to eat 20 pounds of not-green potatoes in a single day to reach toxic levels.

What happens if you eat green potatoes containing solanine?

Solanine is considered a neurotoxin, and ingestion by humans can cause nausea and headaches and can lead to serious neurological problems and even death if enough is consumed.

Can you eat green potatoes if you peel them?

The peeling of green potatoes will greatly reduce the levels of glycoalkaloids as they are localized just below the surface of the peel. However, if these potatoes taste bitter after peeling, then it’s not safe to eat them.

How can you fix green potatoes?

Always use caution if small areas of greening are found in tubers because they contain elevated levels of solanine. Removing the green portions by simply cutting them out will eliminate most of the toxins. However, if more extensive greening occurs, throw the tuber away.

Conclusion:

In this brief guide, we have answered the question “how green is too green for a potato?” with an in-depth analysis of how green is too green for a potato?. Moreover, we have also discussed what makes potatoes green and what are the effects of eating green potatoes on health.

Citations:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solanine
https://www.fsai.ie/faq/green_potatoes.html
https://idahopotato.com/dr-potato/can-i-eat-potatoes-that-are-green

Mahnoor Asghar is a Clinical Nutritionist with a bachelor's degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. She is compassionate and dedicated to playing her part in the well-being of the masses. She wants to play a fruitful role in creating nutrition and health-related awareness among the general public. Additionally, she has a keen eye for detail and loves to create content related to food, nutrition, health, and wellness.