Potatoes are almost always the first in line to get an evacuation order from our menu when we decide to maintain a diet or try to improve our eating habits for health reasons. They contain quite a few carbohydrates, and also starch and relative to other vegetables on our menu, their nutritional values are not amazing. Add to that the fact that most of the ways to make them (at least most of the delicious ways) involve frying and quite a bit of fat percentage, and one can understand why people prefer to give them up when trying to save.
But a new study may help clear up the reputation of potatoes a bit – researchers at the University of Fredo in the United States say they have found that eating more potatoes can help regulate blood pressure, even more than certain supplements. Their study results were published in the journal Nutrients.
The health secret of potatoes stems from their potassium content. According to the researchers, increasing dietary potassium intake by eating baked or boiled potatoes reduces the accumulation of sodium in the bodies of people who feed on a typical Western diet.
In addition, adding more potatoes to the diet also led to a decrease in systolic blood pressure (the higher value in the blood pressure index, which refers to the peak pressure created within the arteries after blood flow to them from the heart). The decrease in blood pressure following eating potatoes was more significant than that recorded in people taking a potassium supplement. The experiment involved 30 women and men who were defined as having high blood pressure or having a predisposition to it.
Another interesting finding of the study (at least for us it is very interesting) is that the researchers found that eating a side dish of fried chips with a caloric value of 330 calories within a regular diet, had no detrimental effect on the blood pressure of the trial participants.
“Although people tend to place a strong emphasis on reducing dietary sodium to better control their blood pressure and the risk of cardiovascular disease – that’s only half the story. Potassium has an equally important role, and perhaps most important here is the ratio of potassium to sodium, at least “Because we have seen that a full diet picture” because we saw that a meal that included more potatoes actually led to a greater decrease in sodium storage rates than taking a dietary supplement, “Dr. Connie Weaver, one of the researchers, said in a press release.
The study authors noted that to date only a few studies have been conducted regarding the effect of potassium on blood pressure. Their research work is one of the first to examine the effectiveness of dietary potassium supplementation as a preventative measure for hypertension.
“It is very important to conduct clinical trials following observational studies to establish a causal link between nutrition and health,” Weaver said. “For example, in the current clinical study we found that baked chips had no effect on blood pressure. This contradicts findings from previous observational studies, and sharpens the need to look at nutrition in a broader approach in the context of maintaining health, as opposed to focusing on excluding a particular food or group.”
In the experiment, the 30 participants were divided into 4 groups that were subjected to different interventions regarding potassium intake for 16 days. One group was fed a diet that contained 2,300 mg of potassium daily – similar to a typical American diet, which the researchers define as a potassium door. The other groups were fed a similar menu, the researchers added: Heat in a pan, in the second group – 1,000 mg of potassium derived from chips, and in the third group – 1,000 mg of potassium in a dietary supplement.
According to the researchers, eating one medium potato can provide about ten percent of the recommended daily potassium intake. So contrary to the dietary trends of the last decade – they are more or less the only professionals who believe that people in the Western world do not eat enough potatoes. In the U.S. for example, potatoes and French fries provide about 7 and 3 percent (respectively) of the average American’s potassium consumption.
“Given that most Americans do not even come close to meeting the recommended daily potassium quota, our findings show how important it is to promote and not restrict the eating of certain foods, and certainly not to negate the legitimacy of potatoes in general, which can be an important source of dietary potassium for people in the Western world.” Dr. Weaver.