The potato is a starchy food, a tuber of the plant Solanum tuberosum and is a root vegetable native to the Americas. 

The plant is a perennial.

They are a staple food in many parts of the world and an integral part of much of the world’s food supply. 

Potatoes are the world’s fourth-largest food crop after maize (corn), wheat, and rice.

There are now over 5,000 different types of potatoes.

China and India leading the world in overall production as of 2018.

Like the tomato, the potato is a nightshade in the genus Solanum, and the vegetative and fruiting parts of the potato contain the toxin solanine which is dangerous for human consumption. 

Normal potato tubers that have been grown and stored properly produce glycoalkaloids in amounts small enough to be negligible for human health,

If green sections of the plant, sprouts and skins, are exposed to light, the tuber can accumulate a high enough concentration of glycoalkaloids to affect human health.

Potato plants are herbaceous perennials that grow about 60 cm (24 in) high, depending on variety. 

Its leaves die back after flowering, fruiting and tuber formation. 

Potatoes are mostly cross-pollinated by insects such as bumblebees, which carry pollen from other potato plants, though a substantial amount of self-fertilizing occurs as well. 

After flowering, potato plants produce small green fruits that resemble green cherry tomatoes, each containing about 300 seeds. 

The fruit contain the toxic alkaloid solanine and are therefore unsuitable for consumption. 

All new potato varieties are grown from seeds.

New varieties grown from seed can be propagated vegetatively by planting tubers, pieces of tubers cut to include at least one or two eyes, or cuttings, a practice used in greenhouses for the production of healthy seed tubers. 

Plants propagated from tubers are clones of the parent, whereas those propagated from seed produce a range of different varieties.

Potatoes are self-incompatible: they bear no useful fruit when self-pollinated. 

All sexually-produced plants must be hybrids. 

There are about 5,000 potato varieties worldwide, each of which has specific agricultural or culinary attributes.

Cross-breeding has been done repeatedly to transfer resistances to certain pests and diseases from the gene pool of wild species to the gene pool of cultivated potato species.

Varieties are often differentiated by their waxiness: floury or mealy baking potatoes have more starch (20–22%) than waxy boiling potatoes (16–18%). 

There is a variation in the comparative ratio of two different potato starch compounds: amylose and amylopectin. 

Amylose, a long-chain molecule, diffuses from the starch granule when cooked in water, and lends itself to dishes where the potato is mashed. 

Potatoes with increased amylopectin content, a highly branched molecule, help the potato retain its shape after being boiled in water.

Potatoes that are good for making potato chips or potato crisps are firm, fairly clean, and fairly well-shaped.

Immature potatoes may be sold fresh from the field as “new” potatoes and are particularly valued for their taste, being small in size and tender, with a loose skin, and flesh containing a lower level of starch than other potatoes (Yukon Gold potato or a red potato).

Dozens of potato cultivars have been selectively bred specifically for their skin or, more commonly, flesh color, including gold, red, and blue varieties that contain varying amounts of phytochemicals, including carotenoids for gold/yellow or polyphenols for red or blue cultivars.

Carotenoid compounds include provitamin A alpha-carotene and beta-carotene, which are converted to the essential nutrient, vitamin A, during digestion. 

Anthocyanins mainly responsible for red or blue pigmentation in potato cultivars do not have nutritional significance, but are used for visual variety and consumer appeal.

Genetically modified varieties have met public resistance.

Sucrose is a product of photosynthesis.

A typical raw potato is 79% water, 17% carbohydrates (88% is starch), 2% protein, and contains negligible fat.

In a 100-gram (3+1⁄2 oz) portion, raw potato provides 322 kilojoules (77 kilocalories) of food energy and is a rich source of vitamin B6 and vitamin C (23% and 24% of the Daily Value, respectively), with no other vitamins or minerals in significant amount.

The potato is rarely eaten raw because raw potato starch is poorly digested.

When a potato is baked, its contents of vitamin B6 and vitamin C decline notably.

Potatoes are often broadly classified as having a high glycemic index (GI) and so are often excluded from the diets of individuals trying to follow a low-GI diet. 

The glycemic index of potatoes can vary by the cultivar, growing conditions and storage, preparation methods whether it is eaten hot or cold, whether it is mashed or cubed or consumed whole, and accompanying foods consumed, especially the addition of various high-fat or high-protein toppings.

Reheated or pre-cooked and cooled potatoes may yield a lower GI effect due to the formation of resistant starch.

Potatoes contain toxic compounds known as glycoalkaloids, of which the most prevalent are solanine and chaconine. 

These glycoalkyloid compounds, which protect the potato plant from its predators, are generally concentrated in its leaves, flowers, sprouts, and fruits, in contrast to the tubers).

Exposure to light, physical damage, and age increase glycoalkaloid content within the tuber.

Cooking at high temperatures of over 170 °C (338 °F) partly destroys these compounds. 

Glycoalkaloid poisoning may cause headaches, diarrhea, cramps, and, in severe cases, coma and death, but poisoning from cultivated potato varieties is very rare. 

Different potato varieties contain different levels of glycoalkaloids.

Potatoes are generally grown from seed potatoes, tubers specifically grown to be free from disease and to provide consistent and healthy plants. 

Storage facilities need to be carefully designed to keep the potatoes alive and slow the natural process of sprouting which involves the breakdown of starch. 

Storage area need to be dark, ventilated well, and, for long-term storage, maintained at temperatures near 4 °C (39 °F). 

For short-term storage, temperatures of about 7 to 10 °C (45 to 50 °F) are preferred.

Temperatures below 4 °C (39 °F) convert the starch in potatoes into sugar.

This alters their taste and cooking qualities and leads to higher acrylamide levels in the cooked product, especially in deep-fried dishes. 

Potatoes can be stored for up to 10–12 months.

Climate change is predicted to have significant effects on global potato production: affected by changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide, temperature and precipitation, as well as interactions between these factors.

Potatoes are prepared in many ways: skin-on or peeled, whole or cut up, with seasonings or without, with the only requirement involving cooking to swell the starch granules. 

Potatoes are used to brew alcoholic beverages.

They are also used as fodder for livestock. 

Potato starch is used in the food industry as a thickener and binder for soups and sauces.

Potatoes are used in the textile industry as an adhesive, and for the manufacturing of papers and boards.

Potatoes do not have a negative effect on blood glucose levels and can help people to lose weight. 

Potatoes are filled with key nutrients, and do not increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.

People tend to eat the same weight of food regardless of calorie content to feel full, so by eating foods that are heavier in weight and that are low in calories, you can reduce the number of calories consumed.

The number of calories in a baked potato can vary depending on the size and toppings. 

A medium plain baked potato with the skin contains approximately 130-150 calories. 

However, adding toppings such as butter, sour cream, or cheese will obviously increase the calorie count (adding a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of sour cream can add an additional 100-150 calories.

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