Spare a thought for the poor old spud. Not only is there a shortage of potatoes earmarked for processing into chips, but they are so out of fashion for the health conscious these days. There’s been the belief they are stodgy, starchy and full of naughty carbs.
Potatoes have even been linked to increasing the likelihood of developing Type 2 diabetes (which, thankfully, has since been debunked).
And they’re the target of really lame jokes. Like this one: how did the Irish potato become bilingual?
Answer: He became a French fry.
However, new Edith Cowan University (ECU) research has shown while spuds may not have all the same benefits as some other vegetables — such as lowering risk of Type 2 diabetes — health issues associated with potatoes may actually be due to how people are preparing them and what they’re eating them with.
More than 54,000 people reported their dietary intake for the long-term Danish Diet, Cancer and Health study.
A recent analysis of this study led by ECU’s Nutrition and Health Innovation Research Institute, found people who consumed the most vegetables were 21 per cent less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than those who consumed the least amount of vegetables.
Further analysis found that while potatoes didn’t have the same impact on Type 2 diabetes, they also didn’t have any negative effect.
It all boils down (excuse the pun) to how the potato is prepared and cooked.
The researchers said boiled potatoes (not mashed or fried) were no longer associated with a higher risk of diabetes: they had a null effect.
The study found people who ate the most potatoes also consumed more butter, red meat and soft drink — foods known to increase your risk of Type 2 diabetes.
It’s only fries and mashed potatoes that are a health problem, the latter likely because it is usually made with butter, cream, and the like.
Overall, the study indicates vegetables could play a key role in reducing Type 2 diabetes, as people who ate a lot of leafy greens and cruciferous vegies such as spinach, lettuce, broccoli, and cauliflower had a significantly lower risk of developing the condition.
The researchers recommended the relationship between vegetables and diabetes should be incorporated into public dietary guidelines — as should the benefits of eating potatoes.
Another key recommendation is that we should increase our vegetable intake, including potatoes, so long as they left out some of the unhealthy extras such as butter, cream, and oil.
Potatoes have fibre and nutrients, which are good. Just boil them and eat them like other greens or other foods — and you don’t need to have it with red meat all the time.
People talk about carbs being bad, but it’s more about the type of carbs you’re having.
Compared to food like white rice, boiled potatoes are a good quality of carbohydrate, the researchers said.