In Pictures: Potato Dishes Around the World (2)

Potato bread, Ireland

Crocchè, Italy

Poutine, Canada

Potato wedges, Australia

Potato hash, United States

Bubble and squeak, UK:

In Pictures: Potato Dishes Around the World

Bangers and mash, UK

Colcannon, Ireland

Stoemp, Belgium

Meat pie with mashed potatoes and mushy peas, Australia

Duchess potatoes, France

Shepherd’s pie, UK

Potatoes Serve High Quality Protein that’s Good for Women’s Muscle

Michelle Donovan wrote . . . . . . . . .

Researchers from McMaster University have found that the potato, primarily known as a starchy vegetable, can be a source of high-quality protein that helps to maintain muscle.

The findings, reported in the journal Nutrients, highlight the potential benefits of what is considered a non-traditional source of protein, particularly as dietary trends change and worldwide demand has increased for plant-based alternatives to animal-derived sources.

“While the amount of protein found in a potato is small, we grow lots of potatoes and the protein, when isolated, it can provide some measurable benefits,” says Sara Oikawa, a former graduate student in the Department of Kinesiology at McMaster and lead author of the research paper.

The researchers recruited young women in their early twenties who consumed diets containing protein at the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of 0.8 grams of protein/ per kilogram of weight/day, which would be approximately 60g of protein for the average woman or 70g for the average man.

One group of participants consumed additional potato protein isolate – in the form of a pudding—doubling their intake of the RDA to 1.6g/kg/d. Another group received a placebo.

Researchers found the women who consumed the additional potato protein increased the rate at which their muscles made new protein, while the placebo group did not.

“This was an interesting finding that we did not expect,” says Oikawa. “But it is one that shows the recommended daily allowance is inadequate to support maintenance of muscle in these young women.”

Perhaps more interesting, she says, was that a form of plant-derived protein, which has generally been thought to be of lower quality than animal-derived protein, can have such a beneficial effect.

To study the impact of weightlifting, the research team then instructed both groups of women to exercise only one of their legs.

“This method is a little unconventional but allows us to see the effect within the same person and not have to add more people who were exercising,” said the study principal investigator Stuart Phillips, who is a professor in the Department of Kinesiology at McMaster and a leading researcher on protein and exercise.

In the leg the women exercised, scientists did not find any extra benefits from potato protein.

“That finding, which some may find disappointing, is in line with the rather small effect that protein has compared to exercise itself,” explains Phillips. “In other words, exercise is just such a more potent stimulus for making new muscle proteins compared to protein.”

The demand for protein has risen dramatically to meet the increased demands from the rising global population and plant-based proteins could fill that gap.

“This study provides evidence that the quality of proteins from plants can support muscle,” says Oikawa. “I think you’ll see more work on plant-based protein sources being done.”

The research was funded by the Alliance for Potato Research & Education.

Source: McMaster University

Are Potatoes Good for You?

Julia Calderone wrote . . . . . . . . .

They’ve been maligned in nutrition circles for decades, with links to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. But they’re also highly satisfying and provide many essential nutrients.

So are potatoes good for you or not?

“Potatoes have gotten a bad rap because of the way they’ve been eaten and processed in the modern food system,” says Charles Mueller, Ph.D., a clinical associate professor in the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies at New York University.

Undoctored potatoes are healthy, says Mueller: They supply a good mix of nutrients. It’s when people deep-fry them in oil or smother them in butter, sour cream, or salt that spuds turn into nutritional duds.

Tuber Nutrition

A medium white baked potato (about 6 ounces) with skin has 159 calories, 36 grams of carbs, and nearly 4 grams of fiber. Potatoes also are packed with a healthy mixture of vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, potassium, and vitamins B6 and C. A medium potato, for example, supplies about 15 percent of your daily need for magnesium; and about 20 percent of your daily potassium need.

“Most people don’t get enough potassium their diet,” says Ellen Klosz, a Consumer Reports nutritionist. “It’s very important for helping to control blood pressure.”

And few Americans get the daily recommended amount of fiber, which has a slew of health benefits, from helping curb cholesterol, protect against diabetes, control weight, and even lower the risk of colorectal cancer. Dietary recommendations say most adults need around 25 to 30 grams of fiber per day. If you eat a medium potato with skin, you’ll get about 4 grams. If you eat one without it, you’ll only get about 3 grams. “It’s always good to eat potatoes with the skin,” says Mueller, “because you pick up some fiber.”

Still, many diet experts advise going easy on potatoes because of their high glycemic index rating. The carbohydrates in a food with a high GI are digested quickly, leading to a rapid spike and then dip in blood sugar and insulin levels. These effects can cause people to overeat and may raise the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.

But Mueller says that you can greatly minimize the boost in blood sugar from potatoes if you eat them as part of a healthy meal that includes protein.

Another way to minimize the GI effect of potatoes is to cool them after cooking and either eat them cold (as in a potato salad) or reheat them. This alters the chemical structure of the potato’s carbohydrates, and forms resistant starch, a type of fermentable fiber that may lower blood sugar levels after a meal and have other health benefits.

Additionally, Klosz says, when you compare potatoes with other some other high GI staples, such as white rice, they’re actually much lower in calories and carbs, and supply more fiber.

For most people, having potatoes a couple of times a week can be part of a healthy diet, says Mueller. But only if you watch your serving size and what you put on them.

“Potatoes are among the most popular vegetables in the American diet,” Klosz says. “But most are consumed in their processed form, such as fries and chips. Only 26 percent of the potatoes we eat are fresh or unprocessed.” And even when eaten fresh, dousing them in butter or cream might negate their health benefits.

That might at least partially explain the findings of some observational studies, such as those from Harvard researchers, which found that eating potatoes frequently may increase the risk of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and weight gain.

In one of the studies, people who ate potatoes two to four times per week had a modest increase in type 2 diabetes risk—7 percent—compared with those who ate them less than once a week. Those who had 7 servings a week, however, had a 33 percent increased risk. While all forms of potatoes—baked, boiled, fried, and mashed—were linked to the disease, French fries were most problematic.

That was also the case in the other Harvard studies. For instance, people who ate four or more servings of baked, boiled, or mashed potatoes had an 11 percent increased risk of high blood pressure compared to those who ate them less than once a month. For French fries, the risk was 17 percent higher.

People often make the mistake of counting potatoes as a vegetable in their meals. “While it is a tuber and it’s in the vegetable family,” says Mueller, “it is a starch, and should be considered equivalent to eating pasta, whole wheat pasta, whole wheat bread, or brown rice.” The Harvard studies suggest that if you replace potatoes with a nonstarchy vegetable or a whole grain in your meals, it helps protect against chronic health problems.

A Range of Colors

In addition to white potatoes, you can find yellow, purple, and red-fleshed varieties. The colors come from compounds in the plants called phytochemicals such as anthocyanins, carotenoids, and flavonoids, which have antioxidant properties and may protect against cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other chronic diseases. Red- and purple-fleshed potatoes have nearly twice the flavonoids as white ones.

What about sweet potatoes? Technically, they’re not really potatoes—they aren’t part of the same plant family—and they may be a little healthier. A medium sweet potato is just slightly lower in calories and carbs (147 calories; 35 grams of carbs) than a same-sized white version, but has about one more gram of fiber. And it provides enough carotenoids to supply more than five times your daily recommended dose of vitamin A. Purple sweet potatoes offer the highest levels of anthocyanins, a type of flavonoid linked to heart and liver benefits, compared with white, yellow, and orange-fleshed types.

How to Prepare Potatoes Healthfully

It’s pretty simple: Go easy on the potato toppings and add-ins. Just one pat of butter and two tablespoons of sour cream adds about 100 calories and 9 grams of fat. “When you add a lot of cream and butter and salt,” says Mueller, “you can increase the caloric value of them and you’re more likely to overeat.” Why? Because they taste good.

The same goes for sweet potatoes. Adding marshmallows, butter, and brown sugar ups the fat and sugar load significantly. There are 14 grams of sugars, and 9 grams of fat in a half-cup of sweet potato casserole vs. about 7 grams of sugars and no fat in a medium sweet potato. Avoid canned varieties packed in heavy syrup.

Fortunately, potatoes—whether sweet or regular—don’t need much to make them tasty. Cut them into cubes and roast with a little rosemary, olive oil, and salt and pepper; or boil or microwave them whole. When eating them baked or mashed, keep the condiments to a minimum.

Source: Consumer Report

Higher Consumption of Potatoes May Increase Risk of Hypertension

In a new study, researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health have found that a higher intake of potatoes and French fries may be associated with an increased risk of high blood pressure (hypertension) in adults.

The findings are published online in the British Medical Journal.

“In our observational study participants who did not have high blood pressure at baseline, and consumed four or more servings a week of potatoes (boiled, baked or mashed) later had a higher risk of developing hypertension compared to those who consumed one or less than one serving a month,” said lead author Lea Borgi, MD, a physician in the Renal Division at BWH. “Additionally, we found that if a participant replaced one serving of boiled, baked or mashed potato per day with a non-starchy vegetable, it was associated with a lower risk of hypertension.”

Through three prospective, longitudinal, US, cohort studies, researchers followed 62,175 women in the Nurses’ Health Study, 88,475 women in Nurses’ Health Study II and 36,803 men in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study who did not have high blood pressure at the beginning of the study.

Compared with consumption of less than one serving a month, participants who consumed 4 or more than 4 servings a week had an increased risk of hypertension of 11% for boiled, baked or mashed potatoes and of 17% for French fries. The researchers did not find an association between the consumption of potato chips and a higher risk of developing hypertension.

The researchers acknowledge the possible limitations of their study, including the fact that participants self reported a diagnosis from a health care provider of high blood pressure. “We take into account all of the data that are available to us and make the relevant statistical adjustments. However, because this is an observational study, there is always a possibility that our findings can be explained by something that we were not able to consider in our analysis,” Borgi and colleagues note. Although the study did not specifically ask participants what kind of potatoes they consumed, white potatoes are considered the most commonly eaten.

Future research will continue to focus on the association between potato consumption and increased risk for disease, including hypertension.

Source: Brigham and Women’s Hospital