Potatoes are seen by many as similar to everyday vegetables. Like a lot of other vegetables, potatoes aren’t exactly the tastiest. However, they do hold a significant amount of health benefits – like a lot of other veggies.
The latest exposition into the health benefits of fresh potatoes was published last month in the British Journal of Nutrition. The researchers argued that consuming a medium-sized, non-fried potato could help with reducing the risk of cardiometabolic problems such as heart diseases, diabetes, and strokes.
Potassium-Rich Potatoes Can Help Fight Hypertension
The study, which was conducted by nutritionists at Pennsylvania State University, examined the effects of eating potatoes as part of a daily diet. It compared the effects to those obtained from a diet filled with refined grains such as pasta, white bread, and rice.
- Researchers surveyed 50 healthy adults and took readings of their arterial stiffness and baseline blood pressures at the start of the study.
- They also examined their blood for fasting glucose, insulin cholesterol, and a wide array of other health conditions.
- Participants were then mandated to replace the starchy side of their main dishes with a study side dish, which was either 200 calories of refined grains or 20 grams of potatoes.
The meals lasted for four weeks, and the participant’s vitals were being recorded as they began to implement potato-included diets daily. After a two-week break, the participants switched their meals to the opposite study dish and consumed those for a month.
According to the report, participants recorded higher levels of fiber and potassium when they consumed potatoes. They also reported increases in diet quality while on potatoes, with little evidence of elevated fasting glucose levels. Cholesterol, insulin, and other markers were also at minimal levels.
New Benefits Arise, but Production Stalls
Speaking with TODAY, Emily Johnston, a co-author of the study and a doctoral student in the department of nutritional sciences at Penn State, pointed out that potatoes are characteristically high in potassium, which is how they influence blood pressure regulation.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed that almost 50 percent of all American adults are dealing with hypertension, and Johnston encouraged people to include potatoes in their diet.
She pointed out that while potatoes get a bad wrap because they are usually associated with chips and French fries, there should be a distinction drawn between them; in their raw form, potatoes are actually healthy.
“Certainly eating chips or French fries should be discouraged, but there are healthy ways to prepare potatoes, so I do think that lumping them all together is a little bit unfair to the poor potato,”
she said, adding that the purpose of the entire study was to bring people to a higher awareness of healthy and controlled eating – not to fear the potato.
However, while the health benefits of potatoes are being given more exposition, there seems to be some bad news concerning the global production of the vegetables.
Figures released by the UN Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO) revealed that global potato production stood at 368.247 million tonnes in 2018, and things didn’t exactly get better in 2019.
Although the exact estimates for 2019 haven’t published yet, Cedric Porter, Managing Editor of World Potato Markets, explained that there was a 17.580-million-hectare growth in area figures for 2018, and while the FAO had estimated that numbers would hit about 19.09 million in 2019, they eventually downgraded their figures to 17.580 million hectares.