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Potatoes are packed with health benefits

When people talk about healthy vegetables, potatoes are usually not on the list, since they have developed a reputation for causing weight gain and increasing the risk for type 2 diabetes. However, a new study led by Pennington Biomedical Research Center has argued that potatoes are in fact filled with key nutrients and packed with health benefits. 

“We demonstrated that contrary to common belief, potatoes do not negatively impact blood glucose levels. In fact, the individuals who participated in our study lost weight,” said study lead author Candida Rebello, an assistant professor of Nutrition and Cell Biology at Pennington.

“People tend to eat the same weight of food regardless of calorie content in order to feel full,” she explained. “By eating foods with a heavier weight that are low in calories, you can easily reduce the number of calories you consume. The key aspect of our study is that we did not reduce the portion size of meals but lowered their caloric content by including potatoes. Each participant’s meal was tailored to their personalized caloric needs, yet by replacing some meat content with potato, participants found themselves fuller, quicker, and often did not even finish their meal. In effect, you can lose weight with little effort.”

Participants were fed controlled diets consisting of widely available common foods, including either beans, peas, and meat or fish, or white potatoes with meat or fish. Both types of diet were high in fruit and vegetable content and substituted about 40 percent of typical meat consumption with either beans and peas or potatoes – which were incorporated into the main lunch and dinner entrées, and served as mashed potatoes, oven-roasted potato wedges, potato salad, or scalloped potatoes.

“We prepared the potatoes in a way that would maximize their fiber content. When we compared a diet with potatoes to a diet with beans and peas, we found them to be equal in terms of health benefits,” Rebello reported. “People typically do not stick with a diet they don’t like or isn’t varied enough. The meal plans provided a variety of dishes, and we showed that a healthy eating plan can have varied options for individuals striving to eat healthy. In addition, potatoes are a fairly inexpensive vegetable to incorporate into a diet.”

According to the researchers, these new data on the impact of potatoes on our metabolism add more evidence that this type of food is in fact healthy and can lead to many positive outcomes.

The study is published in the Journal of Medicinal Food

By Andrei Ionescu, Staff Writer

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