Postharvest Changes in Glycoalkaloid Content of Potatoes

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Potatoes contain antinutritional and potentially toxic compounds including inhibitors of digestive enzymes, hemagglutinins, and glycoalkaloids. Solanum glycoalkaloids are reported to inhibit Cholinesterase, disrupt cell membranes, and induce teratogenicity. In this overview, we describe the role of potatoes in the human diet, reported changes in glycoalkaloid content of fresh and processed potatoes during storage, under the influence of light and radiation, following mechanical damage, and as a result of food processing. Also covered are safety aspects and suggested research needs to develop a protocol that can be adopted by the potato producers and processors to minimize post-harvest synthesis of glycoalkaloids in potatoes. Reducing the glycoalkaloid content of potatoes will provide a variety of benefits extending from the farm to processing, shipping, marketing, and consumption of potatoes and potato products. A commercially available ELISA kit is described which permits rapid assay of glycoalkaloid content of parts of the potato plant including leaves, tubers, and peel, as well as processed potato products including french fries, chips, and skins. Understanding the multiple overlapping aspects of glycoalkaloids in the plant and in the diet will permit controlling postharvest glycoalkaloid production for the benefit of the producer and consumer.