In this brief article, we will answer what a green potato means and 3 ways to prevent it.
What does a green potato mean?
A potato turns green when it gets exposed to light and produces Chlorophyll. This chlorophyll production results in the formation of a toxic compound called Solanine.
Why does a potato turn green?
Potatoes are naturally starchy and have excess liquid in them. When exposed to light, they start producing Chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is a green compound, and its colour is imparted on the potato as well.
This Chlorophyll is an energy source for potatoes and, under sunlight, helps the plant produce carbohydrates. You can identify the green part in a light skin potato quite easily, but in a dark skin potato, you can see the green part by scratching the skin off of the potato.
Is green potato toxic?
Even though the greening of potatoes is a natural process and it indicates the production of more carbs. But it also produces another component called Solanine. Solanine is a toxic compound.
Low levels of Solanine are already present in potato flesh and on potato skin. Almost 70% of Solanine is in the potato plant, and 30% is on its skin. An excess amount is of Solanine produced when a harvested potato gets exposed to sunlight.
Turning the potato green is not an indication of Solanine production. But it is one of the possibilities that when a potato turns green, there is a chance that it will produce Solanine.
Solanine is a toxic compound and is also a health hazard, so it is better to avoid a potato that has turned green or to scrape off the part in which the potato is green
The tolerance level of Solanine ingestion is 0.9 mg/lb or 2mg/kg, and sometimes it is also as low as 0.6mg/lb or 1.25mg/kg, depending on a person’s immunity.
That means a 16-ounce potato should not exceed 20 mg Solanine. 20 mg Solanine per 3.5 ounces is enough to make a person sick with a bodyweight of 50 kg. It is better to avoid eating the green part of the potato, especially for children and ill adults.
The symptoms of Solanine poisoning are nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, sweating, headaches and stomach pain. These mild symptoms go away within 24 hours, but they may result in paralysis, convulsions, breathing problems, coma, and death in extreme cases.
How to avoid Solanine toxicity:
Solanine is a toxic compound and results in immediate symptoms, so it is better not to eat a green potato. How you can avoid it are:
- Peel the potato to get rid of Solanine present on the skin; this will reduce the level of Solanine
- Another way is to cut off the green parts from the potato and consume only healthy parts of the potato.
- If Solanine is present near the eyes or sprouts of potato, it is best to cut them off.
- It is best to throw away or discard the whole potato if it turns green or tastes a little off
How to prevent potatoes from turning green?
Potatoes are a daily used product in many households, so people prefer to buy them in bulk and consume them later. It is also common to buy potatoes in bulk for months, especially if you need them a lot, for example, if you run a fries selling business. Turning a potato green will result in food loss; to avoid that, you can:
- Buying carefully:
The best way to avoid a green potato is by purchasing a potato that doesn’t look green. Carefully observe the potatoes; if you are buying in bulk, make sure it is not near a light source or the rotting stage
- Storage of potatoes:
After buying the potato, one way to prevent the greening of potato is storing them in a clean, cool and dark place. That doesn’t mean you should freeze the potato but keep it in a place where there is no direct exposure to sunlight
- Cover the potatoes:
Storing a potato is important but sometimes, in dark places, insects creep in and damage the food. One way to avoid this is by covering them with plastic. Keeping potatoes in a plastic bag in a warm place where a little light reaches is also an option. The bag will stop direct exposure to sunlight and hence the production of Solanine.
In the case of green potatoes, it is better to avoid eating the potato overall. If you don’t have to buy in bulk, it is better to buy what you need. Buy only a bag of potato or the amount you want to consume.
If you accidentally ate green potato and feel the symptoms of Solanine toxicity, immediately consult a doctor. Even though the initial symptoms go away after 24 hours, sometimes things get worse; it is better to be careful.
In this brief article, we have answered what a green potato means and three ways to prevent it