What happens if you eat raw potatoes? 

In this brief guide, we will answer the question, “What happens if you eat raw potatoes?”. We will further elaborate on the side effects and some health benefits of eating raw potatoes. 

What happens if you eat raw potatoes?

If you eat raw potatoes, it can result in headaches, nausea, diarrhea, and even death in severe cases. The reason behind this is a toxic substance called solanine.

The resistant starches found in raw potatoes also cause digestive problems. In addition, the presence of antinutrients in raw potatoes has been found to interfere with nutrient absorption. 

Raw potatoes – What is the bad side?

Although raw potatoes are not intrinsically toxic and you would likely be fine after eating one, there are multiple reasons why eating a raw potato is not good for the body and taste buds. 

Not only does raw potatoes have a bitter flavor and starchy consistency, but they are also harmful to the digestive system and are capable of causing more severe health problems.

Composed of solanine

Although most completely mature potatoes consist of only a small, harmless concentration of solanine, all potato plants possess many self-defensive compounds that mostly evolve in the areas of the plant that are exposed to sun rays. 

While most potatoes mature entirely below the ground, making them safe for consumption, the ones that have been exposed to sun rays or stored for a prolonged time will begin to turn green or grow sprouts, indicating that there is an increase in toxic compounds.

Composed of resistant starches

The primary concern lies in the type of carbohydrates present in potatoes. Although carbs are essential for the human body, the digestive systems of humans do not have the capability to break down raw starches or resistant starches. 

The resistant starches retained in potatoes remain almost indigestible unless they are cooked, and provide very little nutrition.

While cooking, resistant starches undergo a process named gelation, which makes the starch molecules easy to digest for the human body. This process also occurs in grains, like rice, oats and other foods that are often eaten raw.

Although trying to digest resistant starch will not cause your body any permanent harm, the raw potato will get through the digestive tract without any breakdown, possibly resulting in an increase in undesirable cramping, bloating, and gas production.

Composed of antinutrients

Raw potatoes are also composed of antinutrients, which plays a role in inhibiting enzymes in the body, making digestion of other foods very challenging. 

However, these antinutrients significantly diminish when cooked, and are mainly present in the potato skin.

Raw potatoes – What is the good side

Rich in vitamin C 

Just like any other vegetables, cooking raw potatoes will decrease some of their nutrients. 

Potatoes are inherently loaded with vitamin C, but when they are exposed to higher temperatures the content of vitamin C in them declines. Therefore, consuming raw potatoes will increase the intake of this essential vitamin if you can not get it from elsewhere. 

Raw potatoes also consist of fewer calories and carbohydrates, and they do not raise the blood sugar level to a higher level, as opposed to cooked potatoes. This is an important element to consider if you want to lose weight. 

Rich in resistant starch 

As noted before, raw potatoes contain resistant starch. Although this can not be digested by the body appropriately, it becomes a source of food for the healthy bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. 

This has been linked to health benefits, for instance, it lowers blood sugar levels and improves insulin sensitivity. 

Resistant starches are also transformed to butyrate, which has been found to inhibit colon cancer cells’ development. 

Cooked potatoes are not a better source of resistant starch as the cooking process decreases the starch content to only 1-4 per cent whereas raw potatoes have a starch content of 47-59 per cent. 

The bottom line!

Just like all raw foods, additional care must be carried to eliminate any external pathogens prior to consumption, mainly because no heat source is being used to destroy these pathogens. 

Since potatoes have soil on their surface, if you do want to eat raw potato, it must be cleaned properly and ideally skinned to avoid the consumption of any potential pathogen from the soil.

Consequently, sprouted and green potatoes are rich in solanine and should not be consumed either raw or cooked. 

Raw potatoes also consist of more riboflavin, thiamine, and vitamin C than cooked potatoes and they do not raise blood sugar.

Other FAQs about Potatoes that you may be interested in.

Are potatoes healthier than grains?

What can I substitute for a potato ricer?

How big is a medium sized potato?

Conclusion 

In this brief guide, we have provided an answer to the question, “What happens if you eat raw potatoes?”. We have further elaborated on the side effects as well as some health benefits of eating raw potatoes. 

References

https://www.myrecipes.com/healthy-diet/is-it-safe-to-eat-raw-potatoes#

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/raw-potatoes#toxic-compounds

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.