It’s generally regarded as a staple food and is consumed in all conceivable forms. But if we dig a little deeper, we will find that the potato is good for more than just making mash, chips and so on.

The potato was originally cultivated by the Incas in Latin America. It was not until the sixteenth century that it arrived on European shores and began its meteoric rise as a kitchen staple. For a long time, potatoes were absolutely essential to ensuring an adequate food supply. Consumption has declined somewhat in recent years, but we Swiss still eat an incredible 45 kilograms of potatoes per capita every year. There’s a variety that’s right for every taste and every dish: whether mealy or waxy, small new potatoes or big baking potatoes. Potatoes are often viewed only from a culinary standpoint, but in fact they offer a surprising array of nutrients and health benefits, both in and under the skin.

A potato contains more vitamin C than an apple, about 17 milligrams per 100 grams. Our bodies can’t produce or store this vitamin, so we constantly have to supply it through the food we eat. Potatoes are also rich in potassium. This mineral aids in the transmission of information from cell to cell and is therefore essential for the functioning of our organs, nervous system, skeletal muscles, etc. Potassium is one of the alkaline minerals and is involved in the regulation of the body’s acid-base balance.

And while we’re on the subject of acid, the fact that this tuber vegetable is so highly alkaline means that it can bind gastric acid and counteract over-acidification of the body. In particular those who suffer from heartburn or acid reflux can use potatoes or potato juice as a household remedy. In a study conducted in 2005, participants experienced a significant improvement in their symptoms. The advantages of potato juice over conventional medicines are the absence of side effects and the fact that the body’s own acid-base regulation is not disturbed. During the production of gastric acid, a base known as bicarbonate is simultaneously released into the blood to regulate its pH value. If medication, e.g. proton pump inhibitors, is taken to stop the production of gastric acid, the stomach will no longer be irritated by the acid, but bicarbonate will not be added to the blood either, meaning the body can no longer regulate itself. Drinking potato juice, by contrast, does not entail any risk of interfering with self-regulation.

So it turns out that potatoes are not only a boon in the kitchen but are also useful as a household remedy, especially in liquid form.