Potato is the highlight for fall and winter. While we prepare delicious sweet potatoes and russet potatoes to serve as Thanksgiving side, a big question for potato lovers lingers: is it safe to consume potatoes that look a little weird?

You’ll know exactly what we mean if you have ever had a potato sitting on your counter or in your pantry. It has a greenish hue and tiny buds called eyes, which were the inspiration behind the Mr. Potato Head toy. They indeed look odd, but in 2023, it will be common knowledge that “ugly produce” is still OK to eat, and this eliminates food wastage. Is it true that potatoes will be thrown out if they start to look a bit worse for wear? Is it OK to eat ugly potatoes?

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Not exactly.

We asked registered dietitians and food safety experts what it means when potatoes sprout eyes and turn green. What they said (and why eating potatoes is still a good idea in general)

The truth about potatoes with eyes.

The good news first. As long as sprouting doesn’t get out of hand, it is still safe to eat potatoes that have eyes.

“These sprouts contain a toxin called solanine, which can cause illness such as headache, vomiting and other digestive symptoms,” explained data-vars-target-content-type= “url” data-vars-type= “web_external_link” data-vars-unit-name= “65369503e4b011a9cf7a80f6” data-vars-unit-type= “buzz_body” href= “https://cals.ncsu.edu/agricultural-and-human-sciences/people/ellen-shumaker/#:~:text=Dr.,and%20home%2Dbased%20food%20safety.”>Ellen Shumaker is the director of outreach and Extension for Safe Plates, at North Carolina State University. If large quantities are consumed, it can lead to serious symptoms. If the potato isn’t soft or shriveled and sprouts aren’t large, you can cut them off and eat the potato.

How about green potatoes?

“Don’t eat these!” warned a data-vars-itemname= “Maggie Michalczyk” data-vars -itemtype= “text” data –vars –position in subunit= “4”, and a data –vars —subunitname= “article_body.” Maggie Michalczyk is a registered dietitian who founded Once Upon a Pumpkin. She warned, “Don’t eat them!” The sun turns the potatoes green because they produce chlorophyll. However, the real problem is the accumulation of harmful toxins.

Shumaker confirmed this. She said that green spots on potatoes indicate the presence of solanine toxin, which is also present in sprouts. If there are only small green spots in a potato, they can be removed, but if the spots are larger, you should throw them away.

Shumaker says that the eyes and a greenish tint on a potato are two of the most common signs it has gone bad. If a potato looks shriveled or soft, it’s time to throw it away. Still not convinced? While most of the solanine in bad potatoes is gastrointestinal, it can cause paralysis.

Green potato eyes are not exactly nutritional powerhouses, either.

It’s better to avoid potatoes that look funny, especially when they start turning green. Once potatoes begin to show signs of greenness (tubers, sprouts), they will also have a bitter flavor. The nutrients will also be reduced.

Potatoes can develop a green tinge, as seen here.

Tamar Sams is a registered dietitian, co-founder of Culina Health, and a registered dietitian.

If you are eating a potato that looks normal — whether it is a white or sweet potato — then you can be sure that every bite contains essential vitamins and nutrients. Michalczyk stated that both sweet potatoes and white potatoes are healthy. “White potatoes contain potassium, sweet potatoes have vitamin A and vitamin C, and white potatoes have vitamin C.

In fact, potatoes literally saved lives in early times because their data-vars-item-type= “text” data-vars-position-in-subunit= “7” data-vars-subunit-name= “article_body” data-vars-subunit-type= “component” data-vars-target-content-id=health. The high vitamin C content of potatoes helped to prevent scurvy. If your potatoes start to turn green, then you should avoid them.

Take all of this into consideration and get ready to enjoy every bit of mashed potatoes.