We’ve all seen a green potato at some point in our lives; and we all remember being told not to eat them. Whether we were told that they were deadly or poisonous, the idea of eating a greened potato is simply out of the question for most. What exactly is wrong with a green potato, why is it green, and what will it do to you? Are green potatoes containing solanine deadly?!
First Things First: What Makes a Potato Green?
When a potato turns green, it begins to manufacture a chemical called chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is what makes the green color in almost every single green plant that you see. When chlorophyll isn’t being produced, most plants turn to a shade of brown, tan, red, or orange, meaning that part of the plant is dead or dying. Chlorophyll is in fact harmless, as it is also contained within any green vegetable that you eat. It’s not the dangerous part. As a matter of fact, chlorophyll is known for multiple health benefits. Just take a look at chlorophyll rich super foods like spinach, broccoli, and kale!
The association between a green, chlorophyll rich potato and toxicity is due to one sure fire fact: Where there is chlorophyll, there is solanine!
Why Does Solanine Make a Green Potato Potentially “Deadly”?
Solanine is a glycoalkaloid poison. What most people don’t know is that potatoes are actually a part of the nightshade family, just like tomatoes are. Many nightshade species are toxic to humans, but modern potatoes have been cultivated for thousands of years to reduce production of these toxins. While they still exist, they’re in rather small amounts.
Solanine, when ingested in harmful amounts, directly affects the central nervous system; it interrupts the transmission of nervous signals between cells. It could very well be lethal if enough solanine is ingested. Some common symptoms of poisoning include:
- Nausea & Vomitting
- Sudden Headaches
Final Answer: Are Green Potatoes Containing Solanine Deadly?!
Only if ingested in massive amounts! It would require several pounds of potatoes for an individual to begin experiencing the slightest symptoms of solanine poisoning. Therefore, it would require far more to be considered deadly. It is unlikely that a single individual could eat 4 lb of potatoes to begin experiencing symptoms; let alone more than that. However, it is recommended to avoid green potatoes if you would like to avoid upsetting your gastrointestinal tract; even that would be highly unlikely with a single serving in a traditional meal.
Overall, green potatoes don’t need to be feared in the way that many people seem to fear them. During times of poverty in climates where potatoes flourish (such as Ireland), many families eat lots of potatoes in order to prevent starvation. These families were most likely to develop symptoms from solanine exposure. Naturally, a reaction to green potatoes within these families would cause others to fear illness.