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White potatoes

Potatoes’ nutritional and value punch

When it comes to produce, potatoes are actually one of the best nutritional values on the market, according to a new study published in the latest edition of the journal PLOS ONE.

Dr Adam Drewnowski, Director of the Nutritional Sciences Program at the University of Washington, and colleagues reported their findings after creating an “affordability index” of 98 different vegetables and five vegetable subgroups, including dark green, orange/red, starchy, legumes (beans and peas) and “other” vegetables.

They used a combination of nutrient profiling methods and national food price data in order to create their affordability index, and found that dark green vegetables had the highest nutrient density scores, but that starchy vegetables (including potatoes) and beans provided better nutritional value once cost was accounted for.

Drewnowski’s team also reported that potatoes were the second most affordable source of potassium amongst the most frequently consumed types of vegetables, behind only beans. Furthermore, they reported that potatoes provided one of the lowest cost options for fibre, vitamin C and magnesium – and that potatoes and beans were said to be the lowest-cost sources of potassium and fibre, which have been called nutrients of concern by the USDA.

“The ability to identify affordable, nutrient dense vegetables is important to families focused on stretching their food dollar as well as government policy makers looking to balance nutrition and economics for food programs such as the school lunch program and WIC,” Drewnowski said in a statement. “And, when it comes to affordable nutrition, it’s hard to beat potatoes.”

The research was funded by the United States Potato Board (USPB), and in a statement the group said that the report’s findings add to “the growing database of nutrition science that supports potatoes in a healthful diet… one medium-size (5.3 ounce) skin-on potato contains just 110 calories per serving, boasts more potassium (620g) than a banana (450g), provides almost half the daily value of vitamin C (45 percent), and contains no fat, sodium or cholesterol.”

Back in April, research presented at the annual Experimental Biology 2013 conference in Boston, Massachusetts points to a link between consuming white potatoes and an increased intake of potassium.

The study revealed that, for each additional kilocalorie of white potatoes consumed by adults 19 years of age and older, there was a corresponding 1.6 mg increase in potassium intake as well as a 1.7 mg increase among children and teenagers between the ages of two and 18.

“Very few Americans get enough potassium, which is a key nutrient that helps control blood pressure,” explained Maureen Storey, president/CEO of the Alliance for Potato Research and Education (APRE) and co-author of that study. “Our study shows that the white potato is a particularly nutrient-rich vegetable that significantly increases potassium intake among adults, teens and children.”

Source: The United States Potato Board


Vegetable Cost Metrics Show That Potatoes and Beans Provide Most Nutrients Per Penny

  • Adam Drewnowski, Colin D. Rehm
  • PLoS ONE 8(5): e63277. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0063277
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