Can you eat green potatoes?

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Green potatoes are more than just unappetising, they could be dangerous. Rumour has it, green potatoes can pose a risk to your health. explains whether you can eat green potatoes or not.

Can you eat green potatoes?

According to the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI), potatoes will go green when they aren’t stored properly and are exposed to light.

This can happen if there’s a crack in the soil of the field or under the lights in your kitchen or supermarket.

To avoid potatoes turning green, try to keep them in the dark as much as you can.

Light exposure causes the formation of chlorophyll which is found in all green plants.

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The green colour is also a useful indicator that levels of certain toxins that are harmful to humans, known as glycoalkaloids, may be increased.

Glycoalkaloids are naturally present in all potatoes, but a high level isn’t ideal.

It also signals the presence of solanine, which is a harmful toxin.

Solanine develops faster when there is lots of light, although it doesn’t need light to form.

Solanine is one of the potato’s natural defences, protecting it against insects, bacteria, animals, and fungi.

It is toxic to humans and when consumed can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, sweating, headaches and stomach pain.

Sometimes the symptoms are even worse, causing paralysis, breathing problems, comas, and even death.

It is thought that about 2mg per kg of body weight is enough solanine to cause symptoms.

This means that eating 450 grams of a green potato could make someone who weighs seven and a half stone sick.

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The FSAI site explains that the glycoalkaloids in green potatoes are harmful too.

There are a number of reports suggesting the glycoalkaloids are poisonous

The FSAI says: “The main symptoms displayed are irritation of the gut and also drowsiness.

“These symptoms have also been shown at high doses of glycoalkaloids in controlled experiments using human volunteers.”

You should always inspect your potatoes for greening before buying them.

That being said, green potatoes with lots of glycoalkaloids and solanine rarely make it to supermarkets.

Make sure you store your potatoes in a cool, dark place rather than a fridge or pantry.

Store them in an opaque or plastic bag to block out light and warmth and then put them in the back of a drawer or cupboard.

Peeling the potatoes will help to reduce the levels of glycoalkaloids which localise just below the surface of the peel.

Peeling a green potato will also remove at least 30 percent of its toxic solanine.

Make sure you get rid of all traces of green and then cook your potatoes as normal – frying works best to kill the nasties.

Sometimes it isn’t worth using green potatoes at all, because after peeling there is still 70 percent of the potato left that could be toxic.

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