Potatoes are the most commonly consumed vegetable in the U.S., yet they often get a bad rap. Most are eaten the form of fries or chips, so many people consider them an unhealthy food. It doesnâ€™t have to be that way.
Eating one medium-size potato a day can be part of a healthy diet and doesnâ€™t increase cardiometabolic risk â€” the chances of having diabetes, heart disease or stroke â€” as long as the potato is steamed or baked, and prepared without adding too much salt or saturated fat, a study by nutritionists at The Pennsylvania State University found.
Consuming non-fried potatoes also led to higher potassium and fiber intake compared to eating refined grains, like white rice, white bread or pasta, they noted. The results were published last month in the British Journal of Nutrition.
â€œCertainly 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,â€ Emily Johnston, study co-author and a doctoral student in the department of nutritional sciences at Penn State, told TODAY.
For the study, researchers looked at the effect of eating potatoes every day, compared to eating the same number of calories in refined grains.
The participantsâ€™ potassium and fiber intake was significantly higher when they ate potatoes, compared to refined grains, the study found. Their diet quality was also higher, driven by a higher vegetable intake.
There was no evidence eating potatoes increased fasting glucose levels, and there was no difference in cholesterol, insulin or other markers, the authors noted. There were no adverse cardiometabolic consequences, they concluded.