The Potato is from the Solanaceae family. It is botanically recognised as Solanum tuberosum. The Potato is closely related to Tomatoes, Nicotinia and Deadly Nightshade. The Potato has several varieties and is recognised as the fourth largest crop in the world.

Potatoes have along history dating back at least 10,000 years though likely longer. It is believed that the birthplace of the potato was in areas around Peru and Chile. The Potato was introduced to Europe around the 16th Century and made its way to other parts of the world from there. The Potato was one of the first crops planted in Australia after settlement.

The Potato is a very starchy, tuberous root vegetable high in several essential vitamins and minerals.

Health wise, Potatoes are a good source of carbohydrates and are low in fat. They are a good source of Dietary Fibre and Protein. The Potato is a good source of B group vitamins Thiamine (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Niacin (Vitamin B3) and Vitamin B6. Potatoes are also known for having an exceptionally high vitamin C content. Potatoes are also high in Potassium, Phosphorous, Magnesium and Iron. Calcium is also present.

The potato is a staple food in most diets in Australia, Canada, USA and the UK as well as other parts of the world. It can be cooked and used in many ways.

The production of French fries for fast food chains or for home cooking is perhaps the largest single use of potatoes. Home made chips and baked potatoes are favourites in many countries.

Potatoes are used as a base for the manufacture of vodka and other Alcoholic beverages. Potato starch is a product used in the food manufacturing industry as a thickener and is also used in the manufacture of industrial products. Potato starch is used in the manufacture of biodegradable packing pellets.

Call them Potato chips crisp, French-fries, crinkle cuts or thins, the potato is a very common snack food. Processed potato is also used to make “look-a-like” potato chip snacks.

Potatoes can be boiled or steamed, mashed or served whole with butter or sour cream.

The Health Benefits of Potatoes centre predominantly on their high Vitamin C content and adequate Vitamin B levels. Vitamin B is essential for cardiovascular health, cell structure and nervous system maintenance. Vitamin C is an Antioxidant essential for free radical maintenance and for the prevention and relief from coughs colds and flu.

The Carbohydrate level in potatoes is higher than that of most other vegetables. Potatoes are often avoided in high levels by those on weight control diets but can but consumed in moderation.

Author's Bio: 

Eric J. Smith is an Experienced Horticulturalist with a keen interest in Organic Gardening. Eric's interest in Organics also shows in his interest in Organic Nutrition and Organic Skincare. More information can be found on these by visiting his websites... for Organic Health related products and information on living an Organic Lifestyle for general health information and articles on living a Healthy Lifestyle.

Subscribe to Eric's FREE Health and Organic Newsletters via the above websites.