Potatoes are one of the most widely consumed food in the world, after wheat, rice and corn. Taste of potato is widely accepted by people across countries and across age. Starchy potato forms part of various tasty cuisines. Almost all times potato peel is discarded while cooking. Potato skin while protecting the nutrients within the potato also holds various nutrients which are good for us. By peeling off potato we lose these nutrients. Potato “peel to heal” is our motto for this article, while we share with you benefits you may derive from nutrients in potato peel. We are sure once you are convinced about peel to heal, you would add potato “peel to meal”!
Nutritional Facts of potato peel
Whenever we talk about benefits of peel of any fruit, one thing which comes to our mind is fibers. Like other fruit protective peel, potato peel contains mainly cell wall polysaccharides or commonly known as dietary fibers. About 50% by weight of potato skin consists of dietary fibers.
Potato peel is also rich source of potassium which plays important role electrolytic balance in body. Potato peel offers body with dose of water soluble vitamin C, Thiamine, riboflavin and niacin. Potato skin also contains other minerals like calcium, manganese, zinc and iron. Potato peel also contains various phytochemcials in small amount including phenols and glycoalkaloids which exhibit various beneficial effects on your health.
Health benefits of Potato peel
Traditionally potato skin is used as home remedy for various illness. Potato peel tea and potato peel broath are found in alternative medicinal books. There has been increased interest in its nutrients and its use nutritionally and pharmacologically. Potato peel through its various nutrients offers wide range of health benefits. It is also source of important phytochemcials which offers potential use as nutraceuticals. All this including various health benefits of potato peel are discussed below:
Potato skin aids digestion
Your gastrointestinal tract loves food items which offer dietary fibers. About 50% or more of potato peel consists of dietary fibers. Dietary fibers help in slowing down absorption of nutrients in stomach and give you feeling of full stomach. Fibers in potato peel helps in movement of bowels and relieve constipation. They prevent absorption of toxic material and bad cholesterol in intestine and thus have a detoxifying effect on body. This protective dietary fibers reduces risk of gastric and colic cancers. Potato peel or potato peel extract have been recently used as source of dietary fiber additive for processed food. Dietary fibers in potato peel depend on the method of peeling which could be either abrasive, steam, caustic or manual peeling.
Antimicrobial and wound healing property of potato peel
Latest research shows that potato peel has wound healing ability. Boiled potato peels are often used as cheap burn wound dressing material. Clinical studies show that potato peel dressing is effective in treatment of superficial partial thickness skin loss burns. Furthermore potato peel prevents growth of bacteria and fungus which prevents development of septic in wounds. Antimicrobial activity of potato peel can be attributed to presence of polyphenolic compounds it has. Studies with freeze dried water extract of potato peels show that it contains chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid and gallic acid which are antioxidant and bacteriostatic in nature. Studies point out to use of boiled potato peel as sterile, easy and cheap option for treating burn wounds.
Potato peel and prevention of cancer
With high dietary fiber content it has potential to block absorption of cancer causing toxins in intestine and thus reduces risk of cancer of colon and stomach. Potato peel also contains various chemicals which are antioxidant in nature and prevents harmful action of free radicals on body organs which may cause cancer.
Potato peel good for heart
Potato peel tea has been traditionally used in treatment of high blood pressure. Some studies have pointed out to high potassium content in potato peel for reducing risk of high blood pressure. Potassium also reduces risk of heart stroke and other disorders. Dietary fibers supplied by potato peel are helpful in preventing absorption of bad cholesterol in intestine. Potato peel thus helps in reducing blood cholesterol levels and reduces risk of cardiovascular diseases. Potato skin also offers various chemicals which are natural antioxidant and helps in protection of heart from oxidative stress of free radicals. Paptin, a protein which lowers blood pressure is also found in potato peel.
Potato peel for electrolyte balance
Potatoes and its peel are excellent source of potassium. Potassium plays vital role in maintaining vital role in electrolytic balance in body and regulating metabolism and other activities of body. In cases where body electrolytic and fluid balance is disturbed, like diarrhea, post fasting, potato peel broth or potato peel tea may be found useful. Potato peel broth is considered nutritious drink post fasting. Read about recipe of potato peel broth later in this article.
Antioxidant action of potato peel
Polyphenols and phytonutrients in potato peel are natural source of antioxidant and protects deterioration of body cells by oxidative stress. Early studies confirm potato peel extract as strong antioxidant nutraceuticals. Potato skin protects body organs from oxidative stress and reduces risk of cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart disorders. Animal studies have also verified antioxidant properties of potato peel in protecting liver injury by oxidative stress. As a natural antioxidant source along with its antimicrobial action, it is potential candidate to replace harmful synthetic antioxidants used in food processing industry as preservative. Potato peel extract has been successfully used in prevention of oxidation of soybean oil and preserving it longer.
Skin benefits of Potato peel
Potato peel is used to remove dark patches around eyes. Pacing freshly cut potato peel slices over eyes help remove these dark circles. Another way of using potato peel for dark circles is to make paste of potato peel and apply to the dark region. Potato peel is also effective in case of oily skin, acne and blackheads. Potato peels can be used to get rid of dark patches and acne marks. Rubbing potato peel directly over these dark patches helps reduce them. Boiled potato peels helps in treating burn wounds and inflammation. Rubbing potato peel or potato over rash or insect bite can reduce pain and provide relief. Scrubbing your feet and hands with potato peel helps remove dead skin. Learn how to make do-it-yourself skin mask using potato peel
- Take freshly cut potato peel and blend it along with little milk to make a thick paste. Apply this to your skin and leave for 15-30 minutes.
- Soak potato peels in milk and add little yoghurt to it. Leave this overnight. Blend this mixture next morning. Add some turmeric and apply this to your face. This helps remove dark patches on your skin.
- Dry potato peel in sunlight for couple of days. Once dry grind them to make potato peel powder. This powder can be used along with honey as a face pack.
Hair Benefits of potato peel
Many have tried potato peel for hair care. It is believed that they can help hair grow longer, stronger and darker. Potato peels help darken the shade of your hair. Try these hair treatment with potato peel –
- Blend freshly cut potato peel. Add 1-2 egg yolks and some honey to this paste. Apply this paste to your scalp. Leave it for 15-20 minutes for longer and stronger hair.
- Soak potato peelings in water overnight. This water can be used for washing your hair and helps tone your hair.
- Alternately you may boil potato peels in some water. Strain and allow this water to cool. It can be used to wash your hair after shampoo. It helps darken your hair.
Potato peel and weight management
While nobody wants to be a couch potato, potato skin is good food to reduce weight. It offers good amount of dietary fibers and potassium which are good in losing weight. Dietary fibers give feeling of full stomach and reduce food cravings, while potassium prevents water retention in body leading to more weight.
Potato peel and diabetes
Whole potato with its skin has lower glycemic index as compared to peeled potato. Dietary fiber rich potato peel mediates with the glucose absorption process in stomach and slows down increase in blood sugar levels. High intake of dietary fibers has been well established as good practice for diabetic patients. Potato peel also contains polyphenols with antioxidant property and reduces oxidative stress on pancreas which may lead to type II diabetes. Animal studies show that potato peel powder helped in reducing blood sugar levels in drug induced diabetic rats. Such studies point out to role of potato peel as healthy and functional food and potential use of potato peel extract in treatment of diabetes.
Potato peel and kidney stone problems
While no studies have been reported in use of potato peel in treating kidney stones, it is believed that potato peel water/tea can help remove kidney stone from body. Such knowledge is in domain of traditional alternative medicine yet.
Other uses of potato peel
Potato peel is used in production of biofuel. This waste can be converted into alcohol and used as fuel. One can make good compost out of potato peel. This can be used in gardening purpose. Potato peel can be used to clean silverware. Scrubbing silver items with potato peel helps remove dark stains on them. Research is active in area of extracting bioactive chemicals from potato peel. It is also used in making adhesive and binding material.
Caution using potato peel
Many people advocate not using potato peel due to presence of antinutrient chemical – solanine in the potato peel. Solanine is toxic glycoalkaloid and often present in green portion of the skin in high amount. While solanine is excreted out of our body, it can cause gastrointestinal and neurological side effects. Hence it is advised not using green skins of potato. Similarly sprouted potato, eye region of potato should be removed. Cultivation of potato often involves use of pesticides; residues of these pesticides may be present on the skin. It is advised to wash potatoes thoroughly before using potato skin or alternatively prefer organic potato.
Enjoying potato skin benefits
There are many ways in which you may enjoy health benefits of potato skin. Simplest way is using a whole potato instead of peeling it. Try out potato fries or chip along with its skin. It offers alternate taste and texture. Similarly baked or roasted potatoes along with peel taste better and crunchier. By not peeling potatoes used in soups and stews, you pass on nutrients present in peel to the dish to make it more nutritious.
Potato Peel Broth – Potato peel broth has been long used as nutritious drink. It is used as home made remedy for treating electrolytic imbalance, flue, hypertension and other illness. It can be used as base drink for enjoying health benefits of other herbs which are added in the broth. Learn how to make potato broth at home.
Select 3 medium sized potatoes. Wash thoroughly with water, clean eye region or any green region. Scrape out peels along with ½ inch of potatoes. Potato center may be used for cooking purpose. Add about 4 cups of water in a pan and add to this potato peelings, along with 1 sliced carrot, one sliced celery stalk, one finely chopped onion, 3-4 cloves of garlic. Boil this for about 30 minutes on gentle flame till ingredients are soft enough to be smashed and stained. Stain the liquid out and allow cooling. You may add salt and pepper for taste. Your nutritious potato peel broth is ready.
Potato skin with cheese and spinach – Take 6 small and medium sized potato. Wash them thoroughly and clean. Now apply some oil to potatos and bake them for 40-50 minutes at 2500 Celsius. The potatoes would be baked uniformly now. Once cool enough to handle, cut them in two halves and scoop out potato flesh with spoon leaving cup shaped potato peel with little flesh layer. In a separate pan, take about a tablespoon of oil and add to this smashed garlic cloves, about 3-4, a tablespoon of ginger paste. Add to this mashed potato flesh we scooped out and a cup of finely chopped spinach. Mix well. To this add some grated cheese and cream. Add salt and pepper as per taste, mix again. Fill the potato peel cups with this mixture and bake them again for 10 minutes at 2500 Celsius. Garnish with tomato sauce and serve.
Potato peel tea for hypertension – Boil freshly cut potato skins in water for about 5 minutes. This decoction / tea of potato peel can be used to treat hypertension, rheumatism and other disorder.
Potato peel fries – Collect potato peelings and slice them in small pieces. Sprinkle some salt and pepper on these peelings. Fry them to make potato peel fries. Place them on kitchen paper to remove excess oil. Serve with home made tomato sauce.
Hope this article would force you think before you discard the potato peels!Image Credits: Flickr - Adam Kuban, Flickr - Sherrie Thai