Structure of the Potato

by Annette Welsford No Comments
Understanding how a potato is made – or structured – is not only interesting, but it also explains how we are able to reproduce potato plants from the tubers themselves.
While true potato seed comes from the berries that form in the foliage of potato plants, this type of seed forms fewer and smaller tubers than those that are grown from "tuber seeds". When we plant tuber seeds the buds (or eyes) sprout and grow, and form new tubers.

How a Potato is Structured

If you slice through a potato, what you'll see is skin and flesh, which is the part that most people eat. The most nutritious part of the potato is said to be the thin layer of flesh (the periderm) just under the skin (strictly speaking, the epidermis). The pigments that give potatoes their different colours are contained in the peridermis.
Cut potato
Although, not visible to the naked eye, there are several other another layers beneath the peridermis. The first is a narrow ring of white flesh (the cortex), which covers a vascular layer that contains leaf-like veins. These veins take the nutrients from the top of the plant to the developing tuber and may give the potato a distinctly brown colour. Everything else is known as the medulla which itself has two parts:
  1. ·         the starchy part of the potato that gets larger as the potato grows,
  2. ·         the inner heart which is where the "branches" leading to each eye originate.
While excess plant food is stored in the starchy part of the medulla, nutrients are stored in the heart of the medulla. This is how the buds (or eyes) are able to sprout and grow, from the inside out, pushing their way out of the skin, and eventually pushing out of the soil to form a new potato plant.

Identify Which Parts of the Potato are Most Nutritious

It is a common misconception that the skin itself is the most nutritious part. In fact the United States Potato Board (USPB) maintains that more than 50% of the nutrients found in potatoes are actually in the flesh! But if you look at a potato, you will see why the skin is so important nutritionally, since it only forms a tiny percentage of the whole structure of the potato.
According to the USPB, one medium-sized potato with its skin on contains more nutrients than most other vegetables put together. Specifically, it contains:
  • ·         45% of the daily Vitamin C required,
  • ·         loads of potassium,
  • ·         10% of the daily Vitamin B6 requirement,
  • ·         as well as ribolflavin, folate, magnesium, phosphorous, iron and zinc.
Better still it contains a mere 110 calories and NO FAT – unless of course you decide to make potato fries or to roast potatoes in oil.
Eating a potato with its skin, also contributes to the fibre you need to be consuming every day.
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