From: Andy Soos, ENN
Published September 27, 2011 04:37 PM

Potatoes and Potassium

Many people enjoy potatoes which also have historical significance such as the great Irish great potato famine that forced many to emigrate. Fruit are also perceived as healthy. Research presented in September 2011 at the American Dietetic Association's (ADA) Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE) demonstrates that potatoes are one of the best nutritional values in the produce department, providing significantly better nutritional value per dollar than most other raw vegetables. Per serving, white potatoes were the largest and most affordable source of potassium of any vegetable or fruit. Potatoes were the lowest cost source of dietary potassium, a nutrient identified by the 2010 Dietary Guidelines as lacking in the American diet. The high cost of meeting federal dietary guidelines for potassium, 4,700 mg per person per day, presents a challenge for consumers and health professionals, alike. However, the cost of potassium-rich white potatoes was half that of most other vegetables.

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The potato is a starchy, tuberous crop. The word potato may refer to the plant itself as well as the edible tuber. In the region of the Andes, there are some other closely related cultivated potato species. Potatoes were first introduced outside the Andes region four centuries ago, and have become an integral part of much of the world's cuisine. It is the world's fourth-largest food crop, following rice, wheat, and maize.  Long-term storage of potatoes requires specialized care in cold warehouses.

The potato contains vitamins and minerals, as well as an assortment of phytochemicals, such as carotenoids and natural phenols. A medium-size  5.3 oz potato with the skin provides 27 mg of vitamin C (45% of the Daily Value (DV)), 620 mg of potassium (18% of DV), 0.2 mg vitamin B6 (10% of DV) and trace amounts of thiamin, riboflavin, folate, niacin, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, and zinc. The fiber content of a potato with skin (2 g) is equivalent to that of many whole grain breads, pastas, and cereals.

In terms of nutrition, the potato is best known for its carbohydrate content (approximately 26 grams in a medium potato). The predominant form of this carbohydrate is starch. A small but significant portion of this starch is resistant to digestion by enzymes in the stomach and small intestine, and so reaches the large intestine essentially intact. This resistant starch is considered to have similar physiological effects and health benefits as fiber: It provides bulk, offers protection against colon cancer, improves glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity, lowers plasma cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations, increases satiety, and possibly even reduces fat storage.  

"Potatoes deserve credit for contributing to higher diet quality and increasing vegetable consumption," said lead researcher Adam Drewnowski, PhD. "Potatoes also play an important role in providing affordable nutrition to Americans. You CAN afford to meet key dietary guidelines IF you include potatoes in your diet."

Further analyses of dietary intake showed that putting potatoes on the plate did improve overall diet quality. Individuals who consumed potatoes (baked, boiled and roasted) had higher intakes of potassium and vitamin C and consumed more total vegetables in a day compared to those who did not consume potatoes.

For further information:  http://www.sciencecodex.com/potatoes_are_the_largest_and_most_affordable_source_of_potassium_of_any_vegetable_or_fruit or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potato

Photo:  http://www.agriculturesource.com/p-potato-897860.html

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