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. Most of us can’t get enough of starchy potato recipes, but what if we’re short on time? It is OK to chop up some raw potatoes for a salad or snack? Let’s peel back the answer to this one.

Can You Eat Uncooked Potatoes?

Yes, though you probably don’t want to. 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.

Glycoalkaloids

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.

How you store potatoes can affect this process. Keep them away from sunlight and don’t store potatoes in the refrigerator.

Lectins

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%.

Resistant Starch

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.

Contaminants

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 that 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.

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Carrie Madormo, RN
Now a freelance health and food writer, Carrie worked as a nurse for over a decade. When she isn't hunched over her laptop with a baby in hand, you will find her cooking her grandmother’s recipes, lacing up her running shoes or sipping coffee in the bathroom to hide from her three young children.