Study Finds Kids Who Eat Potatoes Are Healthier

Mashed potatoes
Photo: Blandine JOANNIC from Pixabay

Children who eat potatoes have higher quality diets than those who do not, a new study has found. The study found that eating potatoes in any form was associated with higher intakes of several essential nutrients and improved nutrient adequacy for kids.

“The potato is a nutrient-dense vegetable that provides important, critically under-consumed nutrients to adolescent diets,” Victor Fulgoni, the study co-author, says in a news release. “Given their popularity — more than half of those surveyed reported eating some form of potatoes.”

Researchers gathered dietary information from 16,633 nine to 18-year-olds who were participating in the American National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2001-2018. This study used Healthy Eating Index-2015 (HEI), a validated measure of diet quality, to determine how closely the participants’ diets adhered to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the release notes.

It was found HEI scores were 4.7 per cent higher among those who consumed potatoes that were baked/boiled, mashed or eaten as part of a mixed dish compared to those who ate no potatoes. HEI scores also were two per cent and 1.6 per cent higher than potato non-consumers, respectively, among adolescents who ate either fried potatoes or those who ate fried potatoes and/or potato chips.

“Fried potatoes and potato chips are often paired with less nutrient-dense foods, which can’t be teased out in this type of study but may explain the slightly lower diet quality scores among these groups of potato eaters compared to baked/boiled potato eaters. Additional clinical trials are needed to better elucidate this situation,” Fulgoni explains.

The study was published in Nutrients.

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