The potato is a starchy, tuberous crop from the perennial Solanum tuberosum of the Solanaceae family (also known as the nightshades). The word potato may refer to the plant itself as well as the edible tuber.
 Interesting Facts About the Potato
1. They’re Eco Friendly Potatoes are environmentally friendly. They’re cheap and ridiculously easy to grow, and don’t require massive amounts of fertilizer and chemical additives to thrive (although some growers still use them anyway). They’re also super cheap and good for you, providing you’re not eating them in fried form all the time. This makes them a perfect crop for farmers in the developing world, who can easily grow a nutritious food in adverse conditions.
2. The Potato has been Grown in Space In 1995, potato plants were taken into space with the space shuttle Columbia. This marked the first time any food was ever grown in space.
3. Potatoes Can be Gigantic The world’s largest potato weighed in at 18 pounds, 4 ounces according to the Guinness Book of World Records. That’s enough for 73 portions of medium fries at McDonalds.
4. The Irish Weren’t the First to Eat Them While potatoes may be synonymous with the Irish these days, they were grown in the Andes mountains centuries before Europeans ever set foot in the new world. The Inca people of Peru were growing them as far back as 200 BC. They were first introduced to Britain and Ireland in the late 1500s. They weren’t an immediate hit either, many people blamed them for diseases and railed against them because they weren’t mentioned in the Bible.
5. “French Fries” are Old The “French fry” was allegedly served in the U.S. for the first time by Thomas Jefferson at a presidential dinner.
6. They were Royally Fashionable Potato blossoms used to be the hottest royal fashion accessory. Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were both known to wear potato blossoms to spiff up their outfits.
7. It's an Important Crop The potato is the most important non-cereal crop in the world, and fourth most important crop overall. Only corn, wheat, and rice are more important. In the US, potato products are the second most consumed food overall, trailing only dairy products.
The potato is native to South America.
Most botanists agree that the area having the greatest diversity of wild varieties of a certain plant is probably the center of origin. Which is why we believe the potato is a native of South America. Specifically, the Andean region. Many species of the tuberous plant can be found growing wild in Peru, Ecuador and Chile.
The name of the famous potato, the world’s number one vegetable is probably a corruption of the Indian name for the plant -- patata or papa. When explorers first encountered Peruvian Indians they found them preserving potatoes by drying them in the sun. Something they still do today and something apparently, they have been doing for a very, very long time. Scientists believe the Peruvian Incas improved the wild potato of Peru, which is small and bitter, as it slowly gained importance in their diet.
Prehistoric caches of dried potatoes have been found. The dried potatoes could be pounded into flour, or reconstituted whole. It must have made a fairly thick and nutritious soup. An important crop that could be preserved from year to year, the potato, along with Maizei, was the underpinning of the great Incan civilization.
The white potato was unknown in Central or North America until after Pizarro conquered Peru and spread their potato culture via Spanish forts and ships. Sweet potatoes were used in the West Indies and Central America and in the Southern part of North America. They were referenced in the journals of Columbus and Magellan. They were called "batatas".
The potato was brought to Ireland, in 1565, according to one story. Another has it that Sir Walter Raleigh first grew it there in 1585. Either way, it soon became a national mainstay in the Irish diet. The Irish introduced the potato to New England in 1719, when Irish immigrants settled at Londonderry, New Hampshire.
In Europe, a grain famine, in 1770, caused the potato to become an important crop. A French leader, Parmentier, set up soup kitchens serving potato soup to the starving masses. Today, in France, potato soup bears his name.
The potato helped change American history when in 1847--1848 a terrible famine struck Ireland due to the failure of the Irish potato crop. It is estimated 1,500,000 Irish people died, while another 1,000,000 emigrated, chiefly to the United States of America.
And, all due to a lowly tuberous vegetable growing wild, first found by prehistoric Indians living high in the Andean Mountains. The mysterious and amazing potato.
 The health benefits of potato include the following:
- Weight Gain: Potatoes are mounds of Carbohydrates and contain little Protein too. This makes it an ideal diet for those lean and thins who desperately want to put on weight. The vitamins like vitamin-C and B-complex also help in proper absorption of this carbohydrate. That is why they make an inevitable part of the diet of Sumo Wrestlers.
- Digestion: Since potatoes predominantly contain carbohydrates, they are easy to digest and facilitate digestion. This property makes them a good diet for patients, babies and those who cannot digest hard food but need energy. But you must remember that eating too much of potatoes regularly may cause acidity in the long run. Potatoes also contain considerable amount of fiber or roughage, more in raw potatoes and cold ones than boiled or hot ones.
- Skin care: Vitamin-C and B-complex and Minerals like Potassium, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Zinc are good for the skin. Apart from that, pulp obtained from crushed raw potatoes, mixed with Honey, can serve as excellent skin and face packs. This helps even curing Pimple and spots on the skin. Again, this pulp, if applied externally on burns, gives a quick relief and heals fast. Smashed potatoes, even water in which potatoes are washed, are very good for softening and cleaning skin, especially around elbows, back of the palms etc.
- Scurvy: The vitamin-C present in potatoes can help prevent this dreaded deficiency disease, caused due to lack of vitamin-C. It is characterized by cracked lip corners, spongy and bleeding gums, frequent viral infections like cold etc.
- Rheumatism: There are two aspects of this factor. Vitamins, Calcium and Magnesium in potatoes help giving relief in rheumatism. Water obtained from boiling potato gives relief in rheumatism. But due to high starch or carbohydrate content it tends to increase body weight which may have adverse effects on rheumatic people.
- Inflammation: Potato is very effective in inflammation, internal or external. Since it is soft, easy digestible and has a lot of vitamin-C (very good anti-oxidant and repairs wears and tears), Potassium and vitamin-B6, among others, it relieves inflammation of intestines and the digestive system. It is very good diet for those who have mouth Ulcer. Again, raw smashed potato can be applied to relieve external inflammation, burns etc.
- High Blood Pressure: Since high blood pressure is caused due to a number of reasons, including diabetes, tension, indigestion, nature of food and many such, different are the cures. Potato can be used to relieve High Blood Pressure due to tension, indigestion etc. due to abundance of vitamin-C and B in it, but should be avoided if it is due to Diabetes. The fiber present in it is helpful in lowering Cholesterol and improves functioning of insulin in the body, which aids to lowering of blood pressure, since there is a direct relation between the blood pressure and the glucose level in the blood and insulin regulates this Glucose level.
- Brain Function: Proper functioning of the brain depends largely on the glucose level, oxygen supply, some members of the vitamin-B complex and some hormones, Amino acids and fatty acids like omega-3 fatty acids. Potatoes cater to almost all the needs mentioned above. They are high in carbohydrates and thus maintain good level of Glucose in the blood which does not let brain fatigue creep in and keeps the brain active and alert. Next is Oxygen which is carried to the brain by the haemoglobin in the blood and whose main constituent is iron. Potato contains iron too and thus aids to this function also. Next is the turn of vitamin-B complex. Here again, potato is rich in vitamin-B6 and contains traces of other members of this complex. In addition, it contains certain other elements like Phosphorus and Zinc which are good for brain too.
- Heart disease: Apart from the Vitamins (B-complex, C), Minerals and roughage, potatoes also contain certain substances called Carotenoids (lutein, zeaxanthin etc.) which are beneficial for heart and other internal organs. But again, since it raises the glucose level in the blood and over intake may cause obesity, which in turn can put a lot of pressure on your heart; hence it is not recommended for obese or diabetic people.
- Kidney Stones: Kidney Stones, also known as Renal Calculi, are caused mainly due to raised level of uric acid in blood. In such cases, high proteins should be avoided, particularly animal proteins such as meat, turkey, shrimps, sea fishes, Eggs, Milk etc. as well as Spinach, raw plantain, black grams and certain beans, which drastically increase the level of uric acid in blood. Iron and calcium also help form the stone. Potato is rich in both of these and normally seems not fit from this point of view. But it is very rich in Magnesium which resists accumulation or deposition of Calcium (calcification) in the kidney and other tissues, thereby proving beneficial for treatment of renal calculi.
- Diarrhea: It is an excellent energy-rich diet for those suffering from diarrhea, since it is very easy to digest as well as contains mild roughage. But an over intake may cause diarrhea due to excess ingestion of starch.
- Other Benefits and Cautions: Juice of potato is a good treatment for burns, bruises, sprains, skin problems, Ulcer, effect of narcotics, cancer of prostrate and uterus and formation of cysts or tumors. On the other hand, some care also needs to be taken while eating potatoes. Green potatoes are poisonous, and so are potato leaves and fruits, as they contain alkaloids like solanine, chaconine and arsenic whose overdose may prove fatal. Moreover, the glycemic index (in simple words, the energy or sugar content) of potatoes is very high (above 80) and so obese, diabetic and those who are slimming down should avoid eating potatoes. If eaten, potatoes are better baked than raw or fried.