Are Raw Potatoes Safe To Eat?

Potatoes have got to be one of the tastiest pantry staples of them all, bringing crunch to our meals as chips and fries, fluffiness in the form of mashed potatoes, and creaminess in potato soup — among a whole host of other comforting dishes. One of the starchy spud's most winning traits is its versatility, taking center stage not only in these dishes but many others, and playing a supporting role in stews and salads. Heck, potatoes can even be incorporated into baked goods such as potato rolls and cinnamon rolls, leading us to wonder, is there anything the tater can't do?

You may have noticed something that all of the above dishes have in common: They all utilize cooked potatoes. And since many root vegetables can be eaten both cooked and raw — such as beets, carrots, radishes, and celery root — we got to wondering: Can potatoes be eaten raw, too?

It's not the best idea to eat raw potatoes

While potatoes can be eaten raw, per LIVESTRONG, one should do so in moderation due to certain risks. According to the outlet, raw potatoes contain lectins, an antinutrient  present in all raw plants, which can cause stomach upset, diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal issues. Since much of a plant's lectin content gets destroyed by cooking, eating cooked potatoes doesn't run the same risk of side effects.

Another toxic compound found in raw potatoes, according to Healthline, is solanine, produced when potatoes — which are supposed to grow completely underground — are exposed to too much sunlight. Potatoes high in solanine have a green tinge to them, the website explains, and eating them raw should be avoided if you don't want to experience uncomfortable side effects such as drowsiness and itchiness. Some cooking methods, like frying, can destroy solanine in potatoes.

Still, as both Healthline and LIVESTRONG note, raw potatoes do contain some healthful compounds. For example, they're loaded with resistant starch, which acts as a prebiotic and helps feed the healthy bacteria that populate your gut. They also contain high amounts of vitamin C, that immune-boosting vitamin, a lot of which gets destroyed when potatoes are cooked. We can't think of many examples of raw potato dishes — in fact, the typical Sichuan Chinese-flavored shredded potato salad is one of the only ones we can think of — but if you really want to dig into raw spuds, it's suggested to do so in moderation.