A study has found potatoes can be a source of high-quality protein to maintain muscle in women, a release from McMaster University says.
The findings were published in the journal Nutrients and highlights the potential benefits of what is considered a non-traditional source of protein, particularly as dietary trends change and worldwide demand has increased for plant-based alternatives to animal-derived sources, the release says.
“While the amount of protein found in a potato is small, we grow lots of potatoes and the protein, when isolated, it can provide some measurable benefits,” says Sara Oikawa, a former graduate student in the Department of Kinesiology at McMaster and lead author of the research paper, in the release.
The researchers recruited women in their early twenties who consumed diets containing protein at the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of weight per day, which would be approximately 60g of protein for the average woman or 70g for the average man, the release says. One group of participants consumed additional potato protein isolate in the form of a pudding, thus doubling their intake of the RDA to 1.6g/kg/d. Another group received a placebo.
Researchers found women who consumed the additional potato protein increased the rate at which their muscles made new protein, while the placebo group did not.
“This was an interesting finding that we did not expect,” says Oikawa in the release. “But it is one that shows the recommended daily allowance is inadequate to support maintenance of muscle in these young women.”
Even more interesting she says, is the fact a form of a form of plant-derived protein, which has generally been thought to be of lower quality than animal-derived protein, can have such a beneficial effect.
The researchers also studied the impact of weightlifting, having both groups of women exercise only one of their legs to show the difference, the release says. In the leg exercised, scientists did not find any extra benefits from the potato protein.
“That finding, which some may find disappointing, is in line with the rather small effect that protein has compared to exercise itself,” explains Phillips in the release. “In other words, exercise is just such a more potent stimulus for making new muscle proteins compared to protein.”
The demand for protein has rose dramatically to meet the increased demands from the rising global population and plant-based proteins could fill the gap, the release says.
“This study provides evidence that the quality of proteins from plants can support muscle,” says Oikawa in the release. “I think you’ll see more work on plant-based protein sources being done.”