Potatoes Are Good For You

John Keeling

“Too much coffee can make you fat.”

“100,000 lives saved if salt lowered.”

“Want to lose weight? Eat bugs!”

Do a quick online search of “new food study” and you will come across hundreds of news articles like these that breathlessly inform consumers of the latest scientific studies proving — for once, and for all! — that a certain food is good for you or another is bad.

While dramatic headlines may sway a segment of the population to drastically alter their eating habits, many consumers are instead choosing to tune out advice from the nutrition community completely, fed up with the mixed messages when today’s headline contradicts the results of yesterday’s study.

Lost in the flood of seemingly well-intended recommendations is the fact that the vast majority of people are ignoring the guidance my mother drilled into me and my siblings: eat your fruits and vegetables.

Vegetable Consumption Down

I learned at a young age that leaving the dinner table was predicated upon me finishing my green beans. However, despite the daily barrage intended to encourage healthier eating, nine out of 10 Americans today come up woefully short in meeting the USDA-recommended intake of fruits and vegetables. 

One would think that health researchers would be focused on promoting studies that encourage the elimination of the U.S. fruit and vegetable consumption gap, yet a number of studies do the exact opposite. For example, there is the dreaded “Dirty Dozen” list, which annually scares some consumers into believing the produce aisle is a pesticide-residue haven and may actually promote the consumption of less healthy food items.

The potato industry, specifically, has been a frequent focus of academic health disrespect. When the Harvard School of Public Health released its own version of the federal government’s MyPlate guidelines, it removed potatoes from the vegetable section, stating that potatoes should be in a separate, lower-value category.

Another study published in the New England Journal of Medicine argued that potatoes in any form — boiled, baked, or fried — are behind some people’s weight gain; they conveniently left out that those people also ate a lot of other food that could have contributed to their weight gain.

The Truth Comes Out

The anti-potato clamor became so loud that the industry came together to create the Alliance for Potato Research and Education (APRE), to put forward the truth about potato nutrition, backed by data and facts. 

Recently, APRE released a study showing that white vegetables, which some mistakenly consider devoid of nutrients since they are not colorful, are just as important to a healthy diet as their green, red, and yellow cousins in the produce aisle. While the government recommends the daily consumption of a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, no such recommendation exists for white vegetables, even though they are rich in the very nutrients that are under-consumed by Americans.

The APRE study identified a substantial body of evidence that demonstrates how the inclusion of white vegetables, such as potatoes, can increase intake of shortfall nutrients, such as dietary fiber and potassium, as well as help increase overall vegetable consumption among U.S. children and adults.

Another study, conducted by Dr. Adam Drewnowski of the University of Washington, found that potatoes are not only cost-effective and nutrient-dense, they are a vegetable kids actually eat, giving parents and school foodservice professionals a great option for delivering nutrients to children.

Unfortunately, the simplified health directives of “eat this/not that” also find their way into federal public policy. For example, in 2011, NPC fought off efforts by USDA to place arbitrary limits on the number of times potatoes and other starchy vegetables were served in school lunches.

More recently, NPC is working to remove a ban on fresh white potatoes in USDA’s WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) program, which provides supplemental nutrition to low-income women and their young children. In spite of data showing the WIC participants under consume vegetables in the starchy category, USDA argues that WIC participants already eat “too many” potatoes.

While it is true that potatoes are the most frequently consumed vegetable, popularity alone does not provide a sound nutritional justification for banning potatoes from the program. After all, just because apples are the most frequently purchased fruit, no one argues that people are eating “too many” of them.

With 90% of Americans not getting enough fruits and vegetables in their diet, we think researchers, the media, and our government should focus on promoting real nutritional facts over sensational hype when communicating messages to consumers.

Topics: ,

Leave a Reply

Potatoes Stories
pile of potatoes
Potatoes
April 10, 2016
New Leaders Elected For Potatoes USA
Formerly known as the U.S. Potato Board, Potatoes USA has elected Washington’s Mike Pink to the position of chairman. Read More
Computerized irrigation systems are used to improve water management at Okray Family Farms.
Photo credit: Rosemary Gordon
Farm Management
April 2, 2016
NPC To Offer Scholarship For Graduate Student Advancing The Potato Industry
Selection is based on academic achievement, leadership ability, potato-related areas of graduate study, and extracurricular activities. Read More
Potatoes
Crop Protection
March 30, 2016
Bayer Nematicide Gets The Nod For Use On Potatoes
Velum Prime is a non-fumigant nematicide offering disease control benefits. Read More
potatoes
Potatoes
March 22, 2016
National Potato Promotion Board Updates its Name, Mission, Strategic Plan
The name is changed to Potatoes USA to help strengthen demand for U.S. spuds.   Read More
Potatoes
Marketing
March 22, 2016
Spring Potato Promotion Designed To Increase Retail Sales
Fresh Solutions Network’s potato product promotions are designed to inspire higher potato sales. Read More
Washington Capitol building
Farm Management
February 22, 2016
Industry Groups Praise Release Of Proposal To Create Federal Preemption For Food Labeling
The National Potato Council and the American Seed Trade Association applaud the proposal that would preempt state GMO food and seed labeling efforts and require USDA to set a standard for voluntary on-package disclosures. Read More
tomato field Gordon
Disease Control
February 16, 2016
Learn To Use Late Blight Tool For Potatoes And Tomatoes
Cornell workshop to highlight how tool uses temperature, relative humidity, rainfall information as well as the specific location of your farm. Read More
The Latest
Potatoes
May 6, 2016
National Potato Council Summer Meeting S…
The summer meeting is open to growers and industry leaders interested in advancing the potato industry’s most pressing policy debates. Read More
Crop Protection
May 6, 2016
Late Blight Hotlines For Potato Growers …
Offering management information for five key potato-growing regions, the hotlines provide data on weather threats, disease pressures, and scouting. Read More
Potatoes
April 28, 2016
Potato Breeding Update From Cornell Univ…
Variety research includes incorporating resistance to Potato Virus Y, a new race of golden nematode, and improving appearance. Read More
Potatoes
April 10, 2016
New Leaders Elected For Potatoes USA
Formerly known as the U.S. Potato Board, Potatoes USA has elected Washington’s Mike Pink to the position of chairman. Read More
Farm Management
April 2, 2016
NPC To Offer Scholarship For Graduate St…
Selection is based on academic achievement, leadership ability, potato-related areas of graduate study, and extracurricular activities. Read More
Crop Protection
March 30, 2016
Bayer Nematicide Gets The Nod For Use On…
Velum Prime is a non-fumigant nematicide offering disease control benefits. Read More
Potatoes
March 22, 2016
National Potato Promotion Board Updates …
The name is changed to Potatoes USA to help strengthen demand for U.S. spuds.   Read More
Marketing
March 22, 2016
Spring Potato Promotion Designed To Incr…
Fresh Solutions Network’s potato product promotions are designed to inspire higher potato sales. Read More
Farm Management
February 22, 2016
Industry Groups Praise Release Of Propos…
The National Potato Council and the American Seed Trade Association applaud the proposal that would preempt state GMO food and seed labeling efforts and require USDA to set a standard for voluntary on-package disclosures. Read More
Disease Control
February 16, 2016
Learn To Use Late Blight Tool For Potato…
Cornell workshop to highlight how tool uses temperature, relative humidity, rainfall information as well as the specific location of your farm. Read More
Potatoes
February 10, 2016
Potatoes Are More Than A Good Source Of …
Researchers have been investigating the enhancement of oxidative qualities through breeding potato selections that are considerably higher in antioxidants than those currently available. Read More
Potatoes
February 7, 2016
A Lesson In Marketing From Sterman Masse…
Always looking for new product offerings and ways to expand, Sterman Masser Potato Farms caters to consumers. Read More
Farm Management
January 26, 2016
Black Gold Farms Launches Red Potato Pro…
Red potato supplier unveils “Spice Up Your Spud Life” promotion to capitalize on American Heart Month. Read More
Potatoes
January 26, 2016
Potato Growers Select 2016 NPC Leadershi…
The National Potato Council names a new president as well as members of the Executive Committee. Read More
Potatoes
January 20, 2016
USDA Extends Deregulation Of Genetically…
J.R. Simplot Company submitted a request in May for extension of a determination of nonregulated status. Read More
Marketing
January 20, 2016
The United States Potato Board Launches …
The Spud Nation Food Trucks are part of the new marketing and education effort. Read More
Disease Control
December 16, 2015
Protect Potatoes From Black Scurf And St…
Learn how to identify, the survival and spread, as well as management methods for these fungal foes. Read More
Potatoes
December 9, 2015
USDA Extends Deregulation Of Genetically…
Extension granted for a line of genetically engineered spuds developed by J.R. Simplot Company. Read More
[gravityform id="62" title="false" description="false"]