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Potato Nutrition Facts

Potatoes are the world's fourth largest food crop, following rice, wheat, and corn.

Although Peru is essentially the birthplace of the potato, today over 99% of all cultivated potatoes worldwide are descendants of a subspecies indigenous to south-central Chile.

The potato was introduced to Europe in 1536, and subsequently by European mariners to territories and ports throughout the world. Thousands of varieties persist in the Andes, where over 100 varieties might be found in a single valley, and a dozen or more might be maintained by a single agricultural household. Once established in Europe, the potato soon became an important food staple and field crop. But lack of genetic diversity, due to the fact that very few varieties were initially introduced, left the crop vulnerable to disease. In 1845, a plant disease known as late blight, caused by the fungus-like oomycete Phytophthora infestans, spread rapidly through the poorer communities of western Ireland, resulting in the crop failures that led to the Great Irish Famine.

The potato is a versatile, carbohydrate-rich food and prepared and served in a variety of ways. Freshly harvested, it contains about 80 percent water and 20 percent dry matter. About 60 to 80 percent of the dry matter is starch. On a dry weight basis, the protein content of potato is similar to that of cereals and is very high in comparison with other roots and tubers.

According to the website Potato2000.org potatoes are rich in several micronutrients, especially vitamin C. Eaten with its skin, a single medium-sized potato of 150 g provides nearly half the daily adult requirement (100 mg). The potato is a moderate source of iron, and its high vitamin C content promotes iron absorption. It is a good source of vitamin B1, vitamin B3 and vitamin B6 and minerals such as potassium, phosphorus and magnesium, and contains vitamin B9 (folate), vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) and vitamin B2 (riboflavin). Potatoes also contain dietary antioxidants and dietary fiber.

By itself, potato is not fattening, and the feeling of satiety that comes from eating potato can actually help people to control their weight. However, preparing and serving potatoes with high-fat ingredients raises the caloric value of the dish. Boiling — the most common method of potato preparation worldwide — causes a significant loss of vitamin C, especially in peeled potatoes.

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