Ayurvedic Life Hack- Potatoes for Every Body Type - Ayurveda | Everyday Ayurveda

Ayurvedic Life Hack- Potatoes for Every Body Type

By on August 16, 2016
ayurveda potatoes

The humble potato can never seem to catch a break.  In the 90’s, when low-fat was the thing, it was blamed because of the amount of fat that people slathered on it.  Then in the low-carb craze during the early 2000’s, it was reviled for its high glycemic index and  dieters were advised to avoid it at all costs.  Nowadays some proponents of the paleo diet claim that potatoes contain “anti-nutrients”, while others are enthusiastically ingesting raw potato starch.

What to believe, how to choose?

For starters let’s examine the potato itself: a crop native to the high Andean plateaus of South America.Its arrival to Europe slowly but surely revolutionized the economy, diet and politics of the Old World in 16th and 17th century.

Potatoes are an incredibly productive crop. They can be grown in places too cold and damp for cereal crops cultivation. Unlike grain, which needs to be harvested and stored every year, they can stay in the ground until consumption. Marching armies and mercenaries were much less likely to dig the ground for tubers than pillage the village granaries.  Furthermore, potatoes were not widely accepted in Europe as food suitable for humans until the early 19th century, so those who did eat them didn’t have to face much competition.

Many associate potatoes with the Irish and the catastrophic Great Famine which led to massive emigration of Irish people around the world and a population decrease of 20 to 25% in Ireland. Before the arrival of potatoes in Ireland, oats and barley, supplemented by milk, butter, meat broths and berries had been traditional staples. The Great Famine can be reduced to the story of an oppressed group of people becoming overly reliant on a single cultivar of a single food crop as a result of political and cultural pressures.  That one cultivar fails, and millions go hungry.

What does Ayurveda say about potatoes?



Firstly the potato belongs to the nightshade family, which also includes:

  • Tomatoes
  • Eggplant
  • Peppers
  • Tobacco

The deadly nightshades get their name for a definite reason. Nightshades have concentrated alkaloids in various parts of their anatomy, particularly their leaves.  For that reason some Ayurvedic experts will suggest to reduce or eliminate the consumption of these foods. This is especially the case with patients suffering from arthritis and disorders of the nervous system.

White potatoes are cool, light and dry. Therefore these qualities will cause an imbalance  in Vata and assist Kapha. Potatoes essentially have neutral effect on Pitta.

If you are reasonably healthy, potatoes can be an occasional part of your diet will no ill effects if you follow some simple guidelines:

  • Always pick fresh, firm potatoes.  Throw away any potato that have a greenish tinge in the skin.  Solanine, a natural glycoalkaloid, can occur when potatoes are exposed to too much light.  The green color just under the skin strongly suggests that toxic build-up may have occurred.
  • Avoid potatoes that have sprouts.  Some sources say they’re OK once you remove the sprouts, but if you care about eating fresh food, just compost it.
  • If you are predominately Vata, make sure your potatoes are moistened, oiled and spiced to counter the cool, light and dry nature of the potato.  Make them part of a curry that also includes cumin, coriander and black pepper for example.  Soups and stews are other ways you can include potatoes without overly increasing Vata.
  • If you are predominately Pitta, potatoes are mostly neutral for you.  The main problem is if you use them as a vector for excess oil and spice. Example: those crazy nacho-loaded potato skins that are filled with cheese, sour cream and hot jalapeno salsa- no good.  Oily french fries and chips are another regular culprit for Pitta.  Hello heartburn!  Stay away from those and you’ll probably be fine.
  • If you are mostly Kapha, potatoes can be beneficial if you can restrain the amount of fat you apply to them.  Small amounts of ghee or olive oil and warming spices are best.  Sour cream?  Not so much.
  • Make the potato one of the vegetables in a dish, not the main starch of the meal.

And don’t hit yourself over the head if once in a while you crave your mom’s shepherd pie, or a few fries off your partner’s plate.  Your eating habits in general have a lot more to do with your health than any one specific food. Besides, one could argue that worry and stress are worst for you than a piece of potato.

So my last piece of advice would be that if you are going to eat potatoes, set up the table nicely, sit down, relax and actually enjoy your meal!

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About Suleyka Montpetit

Suleyka Montpetit is a Media Entrepreneur, Explorer, Writer and the former Managing Editor for Everyday Ayurveda. She has studied Yoga, Health, Spirituality and the Arts for over 15 years, rubbing elbows with luminaries and making stuff happen everywhere she goes.

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