Can You Eat Raw Potatoes?
Is it safe to eat raw potatoes? Yes, but eat a mouthful of raw spuds and you're in for a root awakening.
It doesn’t get much healthier than a plate of raw fruits and vegetables. But does that hold true for every piece of produce? Some raw foods aren’t safe (or appetizing) to eat. While most of us can’t get enough of starchy potato recipes, is it OK to chop up some raw potatoes for a salad or snack? Let’s peel back the answer to this one.
Can You Eat Raw Potatoes Without Getting Sick?
Yes, but not a ton. And you probably wouldn’t want to anyway. Raw potatoes are typically very starchy and bitter, so the taste is not ideal. That’s why potatoes are usually eaten baked, fried, boiled or roasted.
In addition to the unpleasant taste, raw potatoes comes with some unique health risks.
Risks of Eating Raw Potatoes
Raw potatoes contain certain compounds that could lead to health problems. It’s important to note that you’d likely need to eat a large number of raw potatoes to notice any issues.
Potatoes contain chemical compounds called glycoalkaloids, and these compounds are considered to be toxic in high doses. Green potatoes are especially high in two types of glycoalkaloids: solanine and chaconine. These chemicals are much higher in raw potatoes than in cooked ones and are known to cause digestive issues like nausea and diarrhea. It’s also a good idea to steer clear of sprouted potatoes for the same reason.
Raw potatoes also contain lectins, a type of protein that is known as an anti-nutrient. Antinutrients get their nickname because they reduce our body’s ability to digest healthy nutrients. Cooking your potatoes can cut the lectin content by 50 to 60%.
Raw potatoes are rich in resistant starch, a type of starch that the body cannot digest or absorb. Resistant starch acts as a prebiotic in the gut and leads to increased gas in the colon. You know what that means—more gas, bloating and stomach upset.
Finally, because raw potatoes have not been cooked, they may contain bacteria and other contaminants that could lead to foodborne illness and infection. Any time you’re eating raw foods, it’s important to wash them thoroughly to remove as many contaminants as possible.
Potential Benefits of Eating Raw Potatoes
To be fair to raw potatoes, they do have a few health benefits to note. First, remember that resistant starch they contain? If you can get past the gas issue, resistant starch has some upsides. It is known to provide energy to the good bacteria in your gut. Adding resistant starch to the diet can lower blood sugar levels, improve insulin sensitivity and even enhance weight loss.
Bottom line? The health risks likely outweigh any potential benefits of raw potatoes.