For decades, potatoes have been branded unhealthy and humans have been advised to avoid consuming too many of them.
But now, researchers say that consuming the popular tuber is actually good for you.
Scientists who reviewed a host of evidence are pushing for potatoes to be reassessed for their “clear” health benefits.
They have uncovered evidence in a 60-page report that consuming potatoes could slash the risk of having a heart attack and may even protect against dementia.
Professor Derek Stewart, from the James Hutton Institute in Scotland, said: ‘The studies we looked at found a whole raft of different benefits. If you have to live the rest of your life on just one thing, you could do it on potatoes and remain pretty healthy. There are not many crops you can say that about.”
It’s certainly well-known that potatoes are a good source of vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C, vitamin B6 and vitamin B9. Stewart says potatoes also contain non-nutrients like carotenoids and polyphenols [powerful compounds], and they’re [potatoes] pretty good for dietary fibre too.”
Epidemiology studies have been carried out on huge populations, looking at potatoes and cardiovascular disease. According to Stewart, those studies have shown that “replacing meat in the diet with vegetables and potatoes is linked with a lower risk of heart attack. Other research has found a strong association with enhanced cognitive function in the elderly if they’re eating potatoes.”
The report, which hasn’t been published in a scientific journal, also showed that the skins of potatoes are especially nutritious. And that minerals in potatoes — which can be mashed, fried or baked — can “survive processing and cooking methods.”
But the researchers warned humans should avoid eating too many french fries due to their significant links to obesity because of how they are cooked.
However, they added that potato has a very satiety index compared to foods with an equivalent carbohydrate content.
A lower risk of heart attacks was noted for adults who replaced meat in their diet with vegetables or potatoes.
And preliminary trials show potatoes can “enhance cognitive function,” the report adds. A decline in cognitive function can lead to dementia. They said this was important because the number of dementia victims are expected to rocket in the coming years.
The report was comissioned by the U.K.’s Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) – an organization funded by farmers and growers.