We have all been there. You bought some fresh-looking potatoes from the supermarket, placed them in the fridge, and gradually forget about their existence. Until the moment to cook them, you discovered the potatoes started sprouting with some alien lifeforms. Are they still edible? Do you cut off the sprouts and bring them to a boil or throw them in the bin?
The main question is, Can potato sprouts kill you ?!? You probably heard of horrify stories or read from the forums of people being poisoned eating potatoes with shoots. Are there any actual pieces of evidence to any of these stories? Even though potatoes are considered one of the most versatile, affordable, filling, and nutritious food on the planet.
Why Do Sprouts Grow On Potatoes?
Before dwelling into the truth, we first must understand why do potatoes sprout? If you observed closely on the potatoes, you might find soft dark spots, called “eyes.” During the sprouting process, generally triggered by the warmth of your house, these “eyes” give rise to new leaves and branches on the potatoes. At the same time, the potatoes begin to wilt, as more starch is converted to sugar, used in the growing sprouts. A wrinkled, shriveled, sprouted potato will have lost more of its nutrients, and it won’t be very palatable. Avoid eating shriveled or wrinkled potatoes. It is also important to note that any light will accelerate the sprouting process.
Why Eating Sprout Potatoes Maybe Dangerous?
Potatoes are a natural source of solanine and chaconine –– two glycoalkaloid compounds naturally found in various other foods, including eggplants and tomatoes (1).
In small amounts, glycoalkaloids may offer health benefits, including antibiotic properties and blood-sugar- and cholesterol-lowering effects. However, they can become toxic when eaten in excess (1, 2).
As a potato sprout, its glycoalkaloid content begins to rise. Therefore, eating potatoes that have sprouted can cause you to ingest excessive amounts of these compounds. Symptoms typically appear within a few hours to up to 1 day after eating the sprouted potatoes.
At lower doses, excess glycoalkaloid consumption typically leads to vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. When consumed in more massive amounts, they can cause low blood pressure, a rapid pulse, fever, headaches, confusion, and in some cases, even death (1, 2).
What’s more, a few small studies suggest that eating sprouted potatoes during pregnancy may increase the risk of congenital disabilities. Therefore, pregnant women may significantly benefit from avoiding sprouted potatoes (3, 4).
How To Spot A Poisonous Potato?
The presence of chlorophyll in a potato means that solanine is also present. A defense against insects, this nerve toxin (which is in the nightshade family) can result in headaches, vomiting, diarrhea, and even paralysis if ingested in very high amounts. So never eat any potato leaves, stems, or sprouts, and it’s probably wise to avoid eating any potatoes that have a greenish tint.
So be on the lookout for any green in your potato, which can come from excessive light, cold, or heat. You’re not going to die if you eat it, but you will be ingesting trace amounts of a nerve toxin.
IS IT SAFE TO EAT A SPROUTED POTATO?
Source: Healthline & theDailyMeal.com