NEW DELHI — It is often said that human beings can survive exclusively on a white-potato diet if consumed in adequate quantities. The notion is not entirely true because despite receiving all essential amino acids, man would wind up with vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
However, eating potatoes is a reliable strategy for an improved intake of critical nutrients, among others, states a study.
“Consumers of potatoes [baked or boiled potatoes, mashed potatoes and potato mixtures, fried potatoes, and potato chips] had higher Healthy Eating Index-2015 [a measure of diet quality] total score and subcomponent scores for total vegetables, total protein foods, and refined grain than non-consumers,” states the study.
The findings of the study were published in the journal Nutrients.
Compared to no potato consumption, results showed that eating potatoes in any form—baked, boiled, mashed, mixed dishes, and fried—was associated with a higher intake of several essential nutrients.
These include dietary fiber and potassium—two nutrients of public health concern—and improved nutrient adequacy.
“The potato is a nutrient-dense vegetable that provides important, critically under-consumed nutrients to adolescent diets,” Victor Fulgoni, III, Doctor of Philosophy and study co-author, said.
“Given their popularity—more than half (56 percent) of those surveyed reported eating some form of potatoes—there are opportunities to lean into these findings to make it easier for young people to find, cook and enjoy potatoes as part of a healthy dietary pattern.”
Researchers gathered dietary information from 16,633 people aged between nine and 18-years participating in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2001-2018.
This study used the Healthy Eating Index-2015 to determine how closely the participants’ diets adhered to Americans’ 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines.
Although differences in scores between potato consumers and non-consumers were statistically significant, the changes were modest. For many nutrients, intake and adequacy improved with increasing potato consumption.
Specifically, the Healthy Eating Index scores were 4.7 percent higher among those who consumed potatoes that were baked/boiled, mashed or eaten as part of a mixed dish than those who ate no potatoes.
Scores recorded were 2 percent and 1.6 percent higher among the group than potato non-consumers, respectively, among adolescents who ate either fried potatoes or those who ate fried potatoes and/or potato chips.
“Our findings show that potatoes play an important role in helping adolescents better meet the recommendations outlined in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans,” Fulgoni said.
“This is an important goal as, according to the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture’s) Agricultural Research Service, children and adolescents have the lowest Healthy Eating Index scores among any age group in the US, just 53 out of an ideal Healthy Eating Index score of 100.”
Additional clinical trials are needed to explain the situation better.
Nutrition intake was determined by using two 24-hour dietary recalls. The first was conducted in person; the second was performed over the phone. Adolescents aged nine to 11 were assisted by parents or guardians, while those aged 12 to 18 provided recalls independently.
Based on their responses, participants were classified into one of four groups: Potato non-consumers; consumers of baked/boiled, mashed potatoes and potato mixtures; consumers of baked, boiled, mashed potatoes and potato mixtures + fried potatoes; and consumers of baked, boiled, of baked, boiled, mashed potatoes and potato mixtures + fried potatoes + potato chips.
Usual intake of nutrients was determined using a method established by the National Cancer Institute, and diet quality was calculated using Healthy Eating Index-2015 scores after adjusting for demographic factors.
The Healthy Eating Index-2015 includes 13 subcomponents, each reflecting an aspect of the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
The study’s strengths included its use of a large nationally representative database (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2001-2018) and multiple covariates to help eliminate potential confounding factors.
However, the researchers also acknowledged a few limitations; namely, the cross-sectional study design cannot be used to determine causal relationships, and dietary recalls may be subject to inaccurate reporting.
Additionally, even with the use of covariates, residual confounding may exist.
(With inputs from ANI)
Edited by Saptak Datta and Krishna Kakani
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