But what if these silent killers were just getting a bad rap? As it turns out, some are, some, maybe not. Read on--the Homestead Laboratory investigates!
|Next, is there enough of the glycoalkaloids to actually do any damage? The dose commonly cited to cause toxic effects for solanine is 2 mg/kg body weight, or 140 mg for a 70 kg person. The half life in the body for humans is 1-2 months, which works out to a total steady-state body burden of 50 mg if the intake of solanine is 1 mg/day. How many potatoes would you have to eat to take in 1 mg/day of solanine? Normal solanine contents of potato tubers are about 7.5 mg/100 g fresh weight (varying widely across samples). The green parts can have more than 200 mg solanine/100 g fresh weight. For reference, the four potatoes in the picture cumulatively weigh 211 g, and the stripes on the cutting board are 1" wide. So, it wouldn't take much if you ate taters every day. Looks like we'll definitely continue to trim the green parts, and probably space out our potato eating a little more, too.
On the other hand, most researchers seem to consider the eyes as part of the tuber, so if they aren't sprouting, it seems there's no need for us to worry about additional solanine coming from the untrimmed eyes. Looks like we can save ourselves a lot of time on eye-trimming. However, if the eyes are sprouting at all, the solanine content in the tuber can go up, down, or stay the same, depending on the variety. One thing is clear, though--the sprouts have the most solanine of all, so we'll be staying away from them! In that case, we'll definitely trim more liberally, and probably make a bit of effort to ease off on our potato intake for a while once that dish is gone.
Also, some solace for french fry and potato chip lovers--the frying process doubles as a high-temperature extraction (reducing the content of the solanine in the fries) because the glycoalkaloids are somewhat oil-soluble. Probably still would be good to not eat the green ones.
|Carrots get some green on their shoulders from the sunlight, too, but aren't in the nightshade family. So, while the green color still comes from chlorophyll, the glycoalkaloids don't come along with it. The green color does still bring some bitterness, but the molecules that cause it have not been identified (or at least, they hadn't as of 2007, and we couldn't find any more recent papers). It's known that some types of molecules, including terpenoids, can result in a bitter flavor, even in non-greened carrots , but apparently in the green parts, these are not the terpenoids we're looking for. One would think they'd also have looked for glycoalkaloids. But the whole carrot plant, including the top, is edible, so the green parts of the carrot roots might be unpalatable, but not likely dangerous. Similarly for onions, the greening that happens on the shoulders of the bulb when exposed to sunlight is due to chlorophyll, but not likely dangerous. It might even be beneficial due to concomitant flavonoid formation! Maybe the carrots are also making flavonoids.|
Of course, if the green parts of the carrots and onions end up being too bitter for us, chicken taste buds might handle them better. Guten apetit!
What do you do with the green parts of your root veggies?