LifestyleGreen peril: the hidden danger lurking in your potatoes

Green peril: the hidden danger lurking in your potatoes

If the potatoes are greenish and sprouting, they are not suitable for eating.
If the potatoes are greenish and sprouting, they are not suitable for eating.
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8:59 AM EST, January 31, 2024

Boiled potatoes with dill make for a perfect side dish, potato salad is an excellent idea for dinner, and fries – well, who can resist them? However, it's crucial to scrutinize the potatoes before prepping and cooking.

Green potatoes pose a danger to health

Storing potatoes correctly is crucial – they must be kept in cool, dark places. If you happen to store them in warm, well-lit locations for extended periods, you'll quickly see that the potatoes start to turn green and sprout. When this color change happens, they are no longer safe to eat since the concentration of a poisonous compound called solanine dangerously increases. Solanine, part of the glycoalkaloid group, is mainly found in the sprouts of solanaceous plants and sprouting potatoes. Consuming these potatoes can result in food poisoning.

What does solanine poisoning look like?

Though potatoes naturally produce small amounts of solanine, their concentration increases when sprouting. In nature, solanine protects against bacteria, fungi, and pests. Ingestion of high levels of solanine by humans can result in poisoning.

The symptoms, which usually manifest a few hours after consuming the poisonous substance, primarily include gastrointestinal disorders, stomach and headaches, diarrhea, vomiting, and excessive sweating. In severe cases, poisoning can induce a coma or even cause death.

Identifying potatoes unfit for consumption

Luckily, detecting non-consumable potatoes is straightforward. Depending on the variety, healthy potatoes should have a mostly uniform, brown skin and a white or yellow interior. If the potatoes turn green, sprout, or develop characteristic "eyes," they are beginning to germinate. Consuming such potatoes poses a significant risk, so they must be discarded or peeled carefully. The highest concentration of solanine is found in the sprouts, and it's advisable to remove them with an approximately 0.4-inch thick margin.

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