Can we all agree that potatoes are one of the best and most versatile foods? You can fry ’em, mash ’em, and roast ’em. But have you ever juiced a potato?
There are lots of potential benefits of potato juice, but it’s not right for everyone. Here’s how to find out if this bevvy is your new BFF.
Health benefits of drinking potato juice
Whipping up a batch of potato juice may be just what you need to get a handful of nutrients in one glass. Some of the top vitamins and minerals you’ll receive are:
Eating or drinking raw potatoes is generally OK, but there are a few things to keep in mind to stay safe.
Let’s talk about lectin
When you eat raw potatoes (or other uncooked vegetables), you’re consuming an antinutrient called lectin. It’s a protein that attaches to carbohydrates, and your body’s digestive enzymes can’t break it down.
According to a 2020 research review, large amounts of lectins can damage healthy gut bacteria and lead to nutrient absorption issues. The only way to get rid of these lectins is to use heat to break them down (by cooking your vegetables).
Green is a no-go
Your potato is not the Hulk. If it starts taking on a green hue or sprouting eyes, that’s not good news. When potatoes are exposed to light, they produce chlorophyll and a toxic compound called solanine. According to the National Capital Poison Center, eating green potatoes that contain solanine can lead to nasty symptoms, including:
- abdominal pain
Removing the skin can help lower the amount of solanine, but you’re better off just tossing that tater in the trash and getting a new, non-green potato.
Raw potato juice isn’t for everyone, but in moderation it can come with some pretty healthy perks. Wondering why you might start sipping on spud water? Here are nine beneficial vitamins and minerals it brings to the table.
1. Vitamin C
Compared with mashed or roasted potatoes, raw potatoes can provide you with much more vitamin C. When potatoes are cooked, the high temperature destroys vitamin C. So instead of getting only 10.1 milligrams of vitamin C from half a cup of boiled potatoes, opting for raw gives you 14.8 milligrams.
Why’s vitamin C so important? This water-soluble vitamin may help protect against cardiovascular disease, vision loss, and even common colds.
2. B vitamins
There are 13 different types of B vitamins, and potatoes contain almost all of them. They’re especially high in folate (aka vitamin B9) and vitamin B6. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, both vitamins B6 and B9 come with tons of benefits for your body and your health.
Vitamin B6 can help your body:
- produce insulin
- fight infection
- create nonessential amino acids
Folate is especially important for pregnant folks because it helps prevent fetal developmental irregularities of the spine and brain.
Step aside, bananas — there’s a new potassium-rich food in town. According to a 2016 study, Americans get about one-fifth of their potassium needs from potatoes. But boiling potatoes can drop their potassium levels significantly. For example, one medium raw potato contains 905 mg of potassium but a medium boiled potato contains only 515 mg.
Potassium is important for every tissue in your body. It helps keep a balance of fluid in your cells, keeps your kidneys and heart functioning, and assists with muscle contractions. Yes, please.
Iron helps your body produce blood and transport oxygen. If you don’t get enough iron, your red blood cells may not be able to transport enough oxygen to your tissues. This can lead to symptoms like:
- shortness of breath
According to the World Health Organization, children younger than age 5 and pregnant women are the populations most likely to deal with low iron levels (aka anemia).
Potatoes to the rescue! A 2020 study found that your body can absorb about 28 percent of the iron in yellow-fleshed potatoes.
Why can’t your body absorb even more? Probably because potatoes also contain lots of antioxidants called polyphenols, which might slow down iron absorption. (But polyphenols are important for your health in other ways, so you definitley need ’em.)
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), calcium is the most abundant mineral in our bodies. It keeps our bones and teeth healthy and helps with muscle function, hormone balance, and blood vessel health.
Calcium might make you think of dairy products. But don’t count potatoes out. While milk is definitely one of the most calcium-rich foods, potatoes actually contain 9 milligrams of calcium per half-cup.
This calcium content isn’t just beneficial for us — it’s good for the potato too. Research suggests that sufficient calcium content helps prevent defects such as brown spots in potatoes.
Drink your zinc with potato juice! Although you won’t reach your daily recommended intake with one glass, you’ll still get more than 1 milligram in one large potato. For reference, adults need 8 to 11 milligrams of zinc every day.
According to the NIH, getting in enough zinc can help keep your immune system in good shape, help heal wounds, and help prevent vision loss. A 2017 review found that taking more than 75 milligrams of zinc each day could shorten the length of a common cold by 33 percent. Keep your juicer ready for cold season!
7. Vitamin K
Vitamin K plays an important role in protecting your bone and heart health. It can help prevent osteoporosis and heart disease.
One large potato will provide you about 7 micrograms of vitamin K (that accounts for 5 to 7 percent of adults’ daily needs). To get even more vitamin K, try adding other nutrient-dense veggies to your juice, such as:
FYI: Vitamin K can interfere with certain medications, such as blood thinners, antibiotics, and cholesterol-lowering drugs.
8. Vitamin A
If you really want to boost your vitamin A intake, juice up a sweet potato. One average sweet potato provides 18,500 IU of vitamin A, while a regular potato has less than 10 IU. The bright orange color of sweet potatoes comes from beta carotene, an antioxidant and precursor to vitamin A.
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that is important for your vision and cell growth. It also helps maintain your heart, lungs, kidneys, and other organs.
Remember those polyphenols that affect how much iron you can absorb from potatoes? Well, they have their own role to play in improving your health. One type of polyphenol in particular, chlorogenic acid, can make up about 90 percent of a white potato’s total polyphenol content.
Chlorogenic acid has been linked with impressive health benefits. It may help reduce your risk of developing the following conditions:
- heart disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- hypertension (high blood pressure)
Potatoes are some of the most widely consumed vegetables, and a 2016 review states that folks get more antioxidants from them than from other fruits and vegetables. Just remember to eat the peel, because it contains the most antioxidants in the potato.
There’s more than one way to juice a potato. You can either whip out your juicer or go with a food processor. Either way, you’ll need fresh potatoes that aren’t turning green or sprouting. Make sure to give them a good scrubbing and chop them into small chunks, leaving the skin on.
If you’re going with a juicer, simply add the potato pieces to the feed tube and let the machine do all the work!
Using a food processor involves a few more steps, but it’s still nice and easy.
First, add the cubed potatoes to the processor, and then add water (at a 1:1 ratio). Crank the machine up to the highest speed you can until you have a pulpy liquid mixture. From there, you’ll need to pour the liquid through either a mesh strainer or cheesecloth, which will catch all the pulp and leave you with something smooth to sip on.
If you’re looking to amp up the flavor of your potato juice, try adding other vegetables like beets and carrots. You can even add some spices to the mix.
If you’re not quite convinced to turn your potatoes into juice, there are plenty of other beverage options that will provide you the same array of vitamins and minerals:
- Smoothies. Like juices, smoothies are super customizable. Looking to get in vitamin C? Add oranges or pineapple. Need more vitamin A? Blend in some carrots, spinach, or mango.
- Tea. Tea contains antioxidants called flavonoids. These antioxidants may help prevent several health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and digestive issues.
- Vitamin water. With multiple flavors to choose from that all provide different nutrients, vitamin water might be right up your alley when it comes to beverages. It’s super convenient too!
- Beet juice. If you’re looking to stick with the vegetable juice theme, try out beet juice instead. One cup provides a bunch of potassium, beta carotene, and folate. A 2017 review even found that drinking beet juice can help improve cardiorespiratory endurance, so this is a great option if you’re looking to step up your workout game.
If you’ve never juiced a potato, now may be the time to try it out. Just make sure you’re not reaching for any green spuds, and don’t drink it too often so you don’t experience any stomach issues. If you do have unwanted side effects, drop this juice like a hot potato and try out other nutrient-dense beverages.