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Tonight I was hacking potatoes to cook'em in the oven and I noticed that they were very green, on the outside and a little in teh inside as well. I always cook potatoes with the skin. It occurred to me that somewhere I read green potatoes may be toxic because of an high concentration of solanin, as belied by the high concentration of green clorophyll.


Now, if you guys read the wiki voice for solanine, it's apparent that it is a natural pesticide produced by the plant, a toxin. We know that these defensive plant-produced chemicals display an hormetic behaviour, that is, at low enough doses they trigger beneficial reaction in the human body.


Now, when I think 'hormetic', then I must have it. Let's say I collect hormetic foods.

I already threw away the diced green potatoes because they were meant to be my son's breakfast for tomorrow. But I'm going to keep the bag, cooking half a green potato twice a week with all the skin and enjoying the hormetic properties of solanine.


In the past I remember I tasted some very bitter green potatoes, cooked in the oven with their skin. I cannot recall toxic effects,l not even mild ones. Probably I'm accustomed to plant-derived toxins after 40 years of vegetarian regimen. Anyhow, I'm determined to take fully advantage of the toxicity of solanine (at hormetic doses).


These are some data from http://www.nutritionmyths.com/are-green-potatoes-toxic/



The maximum safe level of glycoalkaloids is established at 20mg/100g of potato (fresh weight). (7)

Here are some common examples of the contents of total glycoalkaloids of which majority are solanine and chaconine: (8)

  • whole potato (or tuber): 4.3-9.7 mg/100g
  • potato flesh: 1.2-5 mg/100g
  • skin: 15-30 mg/100g
  • potato that is poisonous (tastes bitter or is green): 25-80 mg/100g
  • peel from the poisonous potato: 150-220 mg/100g


Also, A Review of Important Facts about Potato Glycoalkaloids by Marita Cantwell 


Temporary gastrointestinal problems have been reported for some individuals eating potatoes that contained 3-10 mg/ 100g glycoalkaloids. Most of the laboratory studies on glycoalkaloids have been done on animals. The only comprehensive laboratory experiment on solanine toxicity to humans showed that 2 mg of glycoalkaloid per kg body weight produced classic symptoms of poisoning. An 80 kg person who ate 100 g of peels from the potatoes mentioned above with 180 mg solanine/100g peel would probably experience symptoms of solanine toxicity




This means that with my present weight of 66 kg I might experience toxicity symptoms by eating 200 g or less of green potatoes with their skin. One tenth of that is 20 grams and that's probably an hormetic dosage for myself, surely a far higher dose in the past did not cause me toxic symptoms.

Toxicity from proper potatoes would not manifest before eating 2 kg of'em.


Disclaimer: the hormesis region is not the same for everyone. In particular, some people are very susceptible to poisononing from vegetable toxins, like lectins from beans, gluten from wheat, solanine from potatoes. I do not suggest the above experimentation to anyone without a proper medical supervision, or without a consolidated attunement to the reactions of one's own body. Also, experiments should begin with very low dosages.

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I remember researching green potatoes many years ago, and concluding that a toxic dose of anything from green potatoes was nearly impossible (you'd have to eat enormous quantities).  I ate my green potatoes and suffered no ill effects ;)


Not directly related, but I think you may be interested in this: 

Effects of Cobalt-60 Exposure on Health of Taiwan Residents Suggest New Approach Needed in Radiation Protection


In Taiwan 35 years ago, construction steel was accidentally contaminated with Cobalt 60.  The Health Safety Society recommends that 50 millisieverts (mSv) is the maximum safe radiation dosage.  But 1700 people in apartment buildings in Taibei were exposed to this much radiation year after year for a period of 9-20 years until the contamination was discovered and they were evacuated.  These people were studied for adverse possible health effects, but the result was that they had dramatically lower rates of cancer and birth defects.

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Gordo, maybe the data I linked are mistaken, but they would suggest toxicity even at small quantities, like a single 200 gr potatoe. I don't know if something has changed since you searched the topic many years ago. Also, my hypothetical thought is that some people who don't have intolerances and who are long date vegetarians or vegans are much more tolerant to solanine than the average guy who eats no vegetables or very few of'em.


Re the Taiwan Cobalt case, thanks for reminding me, that's regarded a classic example of radiation hormesis.


I wouldn't try and subject myself to any ionizing radiations though, except perhaps the tiny amounts radiated by natural clays (which are often used for curative purposes).

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Gordo, but that article carries no quantitative data, whereas solanine has been studied by toxicologists since decades:




So we should reason in therms of LD50, LC50, range of solanine concentration in potatoes, and so on.


Qualitative reasoning is not much useful when contradictory info is present.

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