Potatoes a sign of a healthy diet

Consumption of non-fried white potatoes by children does not displace other vegetables from children's meals, according to research presented at The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) Conference in Washington, DC. In fact, meals that contain white potatoes contain more servings of other vegetables, and are significantly higher in potassium, fibre and vitamin C. Both potassium and fibre were identified as nutrients of concern in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines.

"Potatoes belong in the diet. Children who consume white potatoes have more nutrient-dense diets, overall, and they actually eat more of other vegetables," said lead researcher Adam Drewnowski, PhD. "There were no differences in the prevalence of overweight or obesity between children who did and did not consume potatoes."

The study

Researchers studied more than 11,500 children ages 5-18 years of age using data from four cycles of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2001-2008. The data set included information on more than 57,000 individual meals in which the white potatoes could be baked, boiled, mashed or roasted but not fried. Separate analyses were conducted for lunch-time and dinner-time meals and at-home and away-from home, including school lunches. The study showed that children's weekday lunches, which included white potatoes, generally had more other vegetables than did weekday lunches without white potatoes.

Potatoes are an economic, nutrient-packed vegetable children typically enjoy eating. One medium-size (150g) skin-on potato contains just 462kJ per serving, boasts more potassium (620g) than a banana, provides almost half the daily value of vitamin C (45%), and contains no fat, sodium or cholesterol. They are a food that complements the meals served in America's schools and home kitchens. - (EurekAlert!, April 2011)

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