Can You Eat Green Potatoes?

Here's why you might not want to.

If you've ever seen bright green potatoes at the grocery store or watched that one episode of Arthur as a kid, then you've probably been weirded out by their existence. It turns out that green potatoes aren't just odd — they can also be quite dangerous. But before we go into the danger associated with eating green potatoes, why do potatoes turn green in the first place?

Why Are My Potatoes Green?

Potatoes turn green when they're improperly stored or exposed to light. As tubers, potatoes crave darkness. Their entire purpose is to store nutrients until spring, when the plant activates its stockpile of stored energy for new growth.

In simple terms, potatoes were never meant to see the sun. Remember biology class? When potatoes are exposed to light, they start undergoing photosynthesis and converting those nutrients into energy. Photosynthesis triggers the production of chlorophyll, and the potato turns green. Unfortunately, this process also creates solanine, a poison that can be dangerous if it's ingested in large quantities.

What do you mean poison?

That's right, poison! Solanine is a natural pesticide, and the potato plant's defense system. It's exclusively found in the nightshade species and Solanum genus, including eggplant, tomatoes, tobacco, and you guessed it, potatoes.

Solanine generally triggers gastrointestinal and neurological distress, such as diarrhea, vomiting, stomach cramps, nausea, headaches, and dizziness. However, as Science Direct notes, more severe cases of solanine poisoning can cause hypothermia, paralysis, hallucinations, jaundice, and even loss of sensation.

Sunlight and warmth turn potatoes skin green witch contain high levels of a toxin, solanine which can cause sickness and is poisonous. Do not buy and eat green potatoes! Heap on sackcloth.
Helin Loik-Tomson via Getty Images

Can You Eat Green Potatoes?

Eating a green potato is unlikely to kill you, but it's best to avoid them. If your potato only has a few green spots you may be able to salvage them. You can try peeling off the skin or cutting off the green parts, but if they still taste bitter, get rid of them.

How Do I Prevent Green Potatoes?

Potatoes won't turn green as long as they're stored properly and kept away from the light. Your ideal location for potato storage is somewhere cool and dark, like a basement. Keep them away from stressors, such as heat and extreme temperature changes. And if you see greening potatoes for sale at the supermarket, alert somebody. You could save lives, or at least prevent a lot of stomachaches.

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