Potatoes may be indelibly linked to Irish culture because of the widespread potato famine that forced many people to emigrate from Ireland. But there is more to the modest potato than many people may know.
Potatoes are an important addition to any diet, as they are a starchy root food that contains plenty of carbohydrates, which makes them closer to grains than other vegetables. Potatoes were first cultivated by the Incas in Peru around 8,000 B.C. The word “potato” comes from the Spanish patata. When Spanish conquistadors traveled to Peru, they discovered potatoes and brought them back to Europe.
Potatoes did not reach North America until
Potatoes were once consumed in abundance on ships during long voyages because they are high in vitamin C and can prevent scurvy. Potatoes also have more potassium than bananas, offering 18 percent of the recommended daily value per serving. One medium-size potato is free of cholesterol, sodium and fat and comes in at about 110 calories, making them a healthy addition to any diet.
Miscellaneous facts about potatoes
While there are thousands of varieties of potatoes, most of them are not commercially produced. Potatoes have been served hot, cold, sliced, pickled, and even as a dessert. Benjamin Franklin once attended a banquet where the food was nothing but potatoes served in 20 different ways.
Potato chips and French fries are favorite snack foods. Thomas Jefferson is credited for introducing Americans to French fries. The popularity of fries has skyrocketed, and millions are consumed each and every year.
Some believe that potatoes are an aphrodisiac, while others feel they have medicinal properties, including curing warts. The Incas used to place slices of potatoes on broken bones to promote healing. Some people believe you can ease a sore throat and alleviate aches and pains with potatoes.
Potatoes have been enjoyed for thousands of years and provide a wealth of nutrition. While potatoes may be most associated with the Irish, these beloved starchy plants are truly a worldwide crop.
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