Potato plants are very high in toxins, according to a new study.
A review of the literature shows that potato plants contain more than 100 different compounds, including some of the most toxic in the plant kingdom.
The study, published online April 22 in the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, found that a wide variety of chemicals were found in potato plant tissue.
The chemicals are found in various parts of the plant, including leaves, stems, roots, and even on the skin.
A handful of compounds have been associated with cancer, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), benzene, and formaldehyde.
The toxic chemicals are concentrated in the leaves and stems of potatoes, and they’re usually in concentrations that cause tumors to form.
However, some compounds found in potatoes are also found in other plants, including plants that are already high in PAHs, such as tomatoes, broccoli, and garlic.
The team of researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that the chemicals were more concentrated in potatoes than in any other food.
“Potatoes are an important food source for humans and animals because they are an essential part of the diet for people and for many other animals,” said senior author James P. McInnis, a professor of food science and plant pathology.
“But we’re also finding that these compounds are particularly abundant in potatoes because we’re eating them at the same time that the human diet is being polluted by these PAH-like compounds.”
The study found that, on average, the levels of the chemical compounds in potatoes ranged from 1.6 to 14 times higher than in the other foods studied.
The compounds are mainly formed when potato plants are exposed to elevated levels of sunlight or when potatoes are heated at temperatures that cause the starch to break down.
The researchers say this chemical reaction is essential for the growth of a potato plant.
But the researchers also found that some of these compounds, such the one found in the potatoes, can also be produced in a plant-based diet byproducts.
“It seems to me that this is the first time that we’ve been able to show that this particular compound is produced by the process of plant-derived protein degradation in potatoes,” McInns said.
McEachnis and his colleagues analyzed the levels in leaves, the roots, stems and flowers of 25 potatoes plants and determined how much of the compounds they found were present.
The results show that more than 70 percent of the chemicals found in leaves and the roots were in the same range as the levels found in tomato and garlic, with about a third of the substances being more than 20 times higher.
In addition, the researchers found that several of the other compounds were present in at least 20 percent of potatoes plants.
Some of the more toxic compounds were also found on the surfaces of the leaves of potatoes and in the tissues of the plants, suggesting that they may have a direct effect on the growth and development of the potato plant itself.
“We found that there was a very strong association between the number of compounds that were present on the leaves, which is a reflection of the toxicity,” McEachns said, adding that these chemicals may be the most important risk factor for plant-related cancers.
The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health (R01-EY084479) and by the University at Albany.
The findings were published online May 4 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.