Is Eating Raw Potatoes Actually Safe?

The versatility of the potato is undeniably impressive. Although merely a humble vegetable, potatoes can be transformed into the most wonderful creations. From healthy baked potatoes free of any cheeky treats to the salty beauty of fries, potatoes can easily be turned from an unbelievably boring staple into a magical feast to thrill any stomach.

However, preparing potatoes for a delicious meal isn't always practical, especially when a lack of time gets in the way. That hasselback potato recipe, though delicious, may have to wait for another day. In that case, why not just grab a potato and munch on it like you would an apple or a candy bar? They're basically the same thing, after all. As bizarre as it may seem, eating raw potatoes is possible, but should you do it?

Grabbing a potato as a sudden snack isn't the most obvious action to take when you're hungry (unless it's been sliced and fried into chips, obviously), and there are competing arguments about whether you should or not. While there are suggested health benefits, there are also many risks. So, let's take a look at which side has the most convincing arguments.

Eating raw potatoes is not recommended

According to LiveStrong, raw potatoes contain vitamins B6 and C, and the skin is particularly high in fiber, useful for the digestive system and controlling blood glucose and cholesterol levels (via Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health). They're also full of resistant starch, which acts similarly to fiber, per ScienceDirect.

However, the general consensus is that the drawbacks of consuming uncooked potatoes are greater than the potential positives. ScienceDirect notes that undercooking potatoes increases the dangers caused by solanine (used by potatoes to deter fungi), including pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. Lectins are also present in potatoes and are designed to fend off attackers. Unless potatoes are thoroughly cooked to neuter lectins, eating them can trigger symptoms akin to food poisoning, details The Atlantic.

Nasty illnesses are convincing reasons for avoiding chewing raw potatoes, but they also taste pretty bad too. LiveStrong reports that uncooked potatoes have a chalky texture with a bitter flavor, for instance. All things considered, any theoretical health boosts from raw potatoes are wiped out by the sicknesses that eating them can cause, suggesting that it's best to make sure they're cooked. And stay away from leaves and sprouts. MedlinePlus explains that, thanks to solanine, eating these could cause stomach upset, fever, and hallucinations.

Now that you know to eat them cooked, why not delve into the difference between every kind of potato and figure out what's for dinner?