Potatoes & French Fries

If French fries come from potatoes, and potatoes are a vegetable, and vegetables are good for you, then what’s the harm in eating French fries?  Plenty, say experts and nutritionists, including Eric Rimm, a professor in the departments of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard who called potatoes “starch bombs.”

Potatoes are rich in starch and have a high glycemic index, which has been associated with an increased risk of developing obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease (CVD) (3). However, compared with other common carbohydrate sources, potatoes have a low energy density because of their high water content (4). In addition, potatoes provide other important micronutrients, which are all associated with a decreased risk of morbidity and mortality (5). Therefore, potatoes represent a contradictory food because they contain both macro- and micronutrients with possible beneficial and harmful effects on health. [Ref AJCN]

Potatoes rank near the bottom of healthful vegetables and lack the compounds and nutrients found in green leafy vegetables, he said. If you take a potato, remove its skin (where at least some nutrients are found), cut it, deep fry the pieces in oil and top it all off with salt, cheese, chilli or gravy, that starch bomb can be turned into a weapon of dietary destruction.

In this cohort study, we found that, overall, white potato consumption was not associated with a higher risk of mortality after adjustment for pertinent confounders. However, the consumption of fried potatoes >2 times/wk was consistently associated with an increased mortality risk in this population of older adults.


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