Recent diet fads and misconceptions about nutritional science have caused confusion among consumers about potatoes. Fortunately, scientific studies show that potatoes contain essential nutrients and can contribute to weight management as well as heart health.
Potatoes Fill You Up, Not Out
Some people will give up their beloved potatoes because they believe it is beneficial for weight management, but that is not the case. Simply put, if a certain food makes you feel full and satisfied, then you’re less likely to eat as many calories.
In one study, researchers at the New York Obesity Nutrition Research Center fed subjects four side dishes (rice, pasta, mashed and boiled potatoes) in random order and measured feelings of hunger, fullness, desire to eat, as well as food intake at a subsequent meal. The results showed evidence of reduced appetite following a meal featuring potatoes compared to the other carbohydrate-rich side dishes.
A Love Story: Potatoes and Heart Health
Potatoes contribute key nutrients to the diet including vitamin C, potassium, and dietary fiber. These nutrients — potassium in particular — have been shown to have beneficial effects on cardiovascular health including lowering blood pressure, improving blood lipid profiles, and decreasing various markers of inflammation. These benefits are significant given that cardiovascular disease remains the number one killer of Americans today.
Eat Your (White) Veggies Too
A commonly held belief is that the color of a vegetable is an indicator of its nutritional value: the more intense or brightly colored, the higher the nutrient content.
However, white vegetables, including nutrient-dense potatoes, contribute important amounts of essential shortfall nutrients to the American diet across all age groups, and they can help increase overall vegetable consumption, according to the authors of a scientific supplement published in the peer-reviewed journal, Advances in Nutrition, titled “White Vegetables: A Forgotten Source of Nutrients.”
The supplement features nine papers by nutrition scientists exploring how white vegetables support a healthy diet.
The scientists identified a substantial body of evidence demonstrating how white vegetables can help increase the intake of shortfall nutrients, notably fiber, potassium, and magnesium, as well as help increase overall vegetable consumption among children, teens, and adults in the U.S.
The National Potato Council encourages individuals to turn to facts, not fads, when looking at ways to manage a healthy diet, and to think about including potatoes as part of a well-balanced approach to good health.