I remember exciting school days donning my team jersey and representing my school in competitions. On competition day, usually a weekday afternoon, none of us school team members could pay attention to our teachers in class. We’d all be eagerly awaiting only one thing: early release from class, so we could have our pre-match meal before the rest of the school had recess. The excuse was we needed to eat a certain number of hours before the competition to allow for proper digestion to boost performance. In truth, those early meals made us feel special, because in our school-age minds we believed we’d earned the right to them by being selected for the team. Young and cocky we were, then.
Those pre-match meals were unguided, unscientific carbo-loading sessions based on each other’s “good ideas”, consisting bananas (though you could only eat so many), bread, rice, pasta, and potatoes which we could really pig-out on. Occasionally a teammate would go overboard and instead of getting a lasting energy boost, he’d be bloated, sluggish and sometimes throw it all up. Those were the guys the rest of us were careful not to stand close to on the pitch.
It’s funny but somewhat fitting that years on, when I bump into old teammates, those same guys who used to puke potatoes (and whatever else they’d eaten as their pre-match meal) are now not only much larger in girth, they’re still puking although it’s not during the heat of competition, but after a night out partying and drinking. I guess those old buddies are the real athletes, they still have the energy and endurance to party all night and then make it to the office as usual the next day.
And here’s where a potato can really save your day! It seems that a baked potato (with skin on) is a really good remedy for a hangover and all the bad feelings that come together in the package, like hangover-headaches.
Here’s how it works: we all know that alcohol is a diuretic that causes dehydration and the loss of electrolytes, for example potassium. That’s what leads to bad hangover-headaches the morning after a night’s hard partying and drinking. A baked potato can come to the rescue because it’s a fantastic source of potassium – 738 milligrams in a small potato (138 grams), compared to 544 milligrams in an extra large banana (152 grams). And certainly, eating potassium-rich foods will help to alleviate hangover-headaches.
But as plentiful an amount of potassium there is in a medium serving of baked potato (about 170 grams), it’s only the second highest nutrient by percentage of daily value (%DV), or the amount of a nutrient that our body needs each day. The top title belongs to vitamin B6 (32%). Potassium weighs in at 26%.
The rest of the baked potato boasts pretty impressive %DV numbers too: vitamin C (22%), copper (22%), manganese (19%), phosphorus (17%), fibre (15%), vitamin B3 (15%) and pantothenic acid (13%).
On top of these significant, albeit surprising, %DV numbers from a baked potato – who’d thought it, right? – studies also show that potatoes have other health benefits such as antioxidant properties, blood-pressure lowering abilities, and that in particular the high vitamin B6 content helps build cells in our bodies, boosts brain and nervous system activities, improves cardiovascular protection and health, and enhances athletic performance. And of course, baked potatoes are both delicious and satiating too.
No wonder then that potatoes are such a popular and important staple food worldwide and across almost all cultures. And even more so baked potatoes, which are a comfort food for many people any season of the year.
I would further suggest that baked potatoes are an extra source of comfort for travellers, because they’re connected to something they’re familiar with from home regardless where they actually are. Much like the save-the-day ratatouille dish in the animated movie Ratatouille (2007), it’s usually something so simple and basic that’s rooted so deeply in each one of us that really hits home. Baked potatoes can be the traveller’s “ratatouille” that they can find easily almost in any city they may wander to on this big, beautiful planet of ours.
Perhaps that’s also the reason why here at Sofresh we get so many orders to supply potatoes to all our cruise ship clients, as well as our commercial vessel and oil rig clients. Because we all need the feeling of comfort and the loving warmth of homemade memories every so often.
So party on, play hard or travel far – whatever your fancy, have a baked potato (skin on) often. You’ll never know, someday one of those fresh hot spuds may just be the thing to save us from an otherwise gone-case day. Till the next one!