The edible and mouth-watering tuber has been regarded as a food source in most countries across the globe. While the term potato is used to describe slightly different species, it is interesting to note that one of the plants’ leaves is to an extent delish as much as the other is deadly. Potatoes exist in two types, Irish and Sweet ones. Since both provide a hearty meal from their tubers this begs the question, “Can you eat potato leaves?”
Irish potatoes are termed nightshades whilst sweet potatoes belong to the morning glory family. Altogether, these potatoes are a rich source of nutrients such as Vitamin A, B, C, K and minerals like calcium and iron. In response to one wondering, are potato leaves poisonous, Irish potato leaves are not edible as they can be toxic.
This is due to solanine, a protective chemical which is produced when the plant is exposed to the sun and is spread across the plant in different quantities. The presence of solanine is noticed in potatoes as green spots on the tuber. Solanine is poisonous for human consumption. Signs of solanine poisoning include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, a weak and rapid pulse and in extreme cases respiratory failure. Although there may be little quantities or traces present in the tuber, these are lost while preparing them for consumption, that is frying or boiling them.
Sweet potato leaves
Sweet potato leaves, however, are not only rich in fibre, iron, potassium among others but they are also believed to be ideal for treating metabolic issues as well as aid for medicinal purposes such as skin irritations and rashes caused by insect bites and poisonous plants. A major push in the consumption of these leaves includes the fact that they are easy to grow. The leaves can be harvested prior to optimal growth of the tuber and be used for the above mentioned reasons.
How are sweet potatoes grown?
Sweet potatoes have an edge over Irish potatoes since they can be grown at any time of the year and in addition, are easy to grow. For small scale or home produce, you may simply place half an organic sweet potato in water and leave indoors at a point the sun can reach.
Farmers or individuals taking part in this exercise tend to attain plentiful harvest at the least maintenance. Sweet potatoes grow best in warm weather between four to six months. They also require plenty of space to spread as well as sandy well drained soil.
How can sweet potato leaves be eaten?
There are a couple of ways to prepare sweet potato leaves and one needs to be well aware of the bitter nature of the leaves. This is so as to decide how best to consume them, either in its raw form or cooking it till it reaches its spinach like taste. They can be consumed raw by adding them to your salad in the same way you add any dark leafy green, for example in preparing sweet potato green salad with tomato and onion.
The bitter taste earlier mentioned can be removed by boiling the sweet potato leaves and then cooking them. You can also resort to drinking the infused tea instead in order to stimulate appetite. A fascinating note is that while cooking these green may result in some vitamin loss, the heat can actually activate certain nutrients, vitamins and enzymes.
You may also experience a high intake of vitamins by adding sweet potato leaves into your daily juice, although the raw form can leave a slight bitterness to taste. Similarly, chopping up sweet potato leaves and cooking them with some butter and garlic makes a really good meal to eat.
Why eating sweet potato leaves is healthy for you?
Several components found in the sweet potato leaves provide nutrition to your body. They are also low in calories. An example of health benefits derived from sweet potato vines is from the existence of Vitamin K which not only prevents calcification of hard deposits in the arteries but also reduces inflammation of cells lining the blood vessels and in turn promotes heart health.
Besides this, Vitamin K reduces the risk of bone loss and bone fractures, especially in postmenstrual women. Furthermore, Vitamin A improves eyesight and lowers inflammation through vision health enhancement and lowering the risk of not only allergic reactions but also neurodegenerative diseases. Similarly, ones’ healing properties are amplified as well as healthier skin attained due to the production of collagen to counteract fine lines and wrinkles that is if the dosage is consumed in the right quantities. The fiber content in sweet potato leaves helps in bowel movement as well as gastrointestinal tract.
Are the leaves of Irish potato beneficial?
While the Irish potato leaves are not edible, there are some underlying benefits which humans can derive from their existence. You may become aware of an infestation to occur by identifying the signs on the leaves. Leaves expose the first sign of insect infestation and these can lead to drastic consequences if unattended. For instance, the Colorado potato beetle and its larvae can lay waste to a whole field in a lesser amount of time.
Fortunately, there are some potato species with hairy leaves to prevent against this occurrence. In addition, the balance of whether you are watering with too much or too little water is easily recognizable through the leaf coloring.
To wrap up
The enquiry on the consumption of potato leaves is answered based on the type of potatoes in question. Sweet potato leaves can be eaten and are very healthy. In the Pacific Ocean Islands as well as in Asia and Africa where they are grown they are called camel tops.
Although people in some parts of the world are unaware of this tasty vitamin filled veggie, sweet potato leaves make an excellent substitute for potatoes and other fattening carbs. Irish potato leaves, however are poisonous for consumption and thus you should only stick to consuming the tubers.