The Potato: More Than Just a Fad

How potatoes have survived the age of fad diets

Published in the March 2014 Issue Published online: Mar 24, 2014 Frank Muir, IPC President
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Low-fat, no-fat, low-carb, dairy-free, gluten-free…The diet and nutrition advice that makes headline news is varied and often confusing for the average consumer who wants to establish or maintain healthy eating habits.

U.S. News and World Report recently released its list of the best diets of 2014, and I was pleased with their top three: Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH), Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) and Weight Watchers. Each of these eating programs promotes different health goals—lowering high blood pressure, lowering cholesterol and weight loss—but all ultimately achieve balanced, sustainable eating habits. And, most importantly, they include potatoes.

The DASH eating plan was designed to help lower and prevent high blood pressure through diet. Currently one in three adults in the United States is affected by high blood pressure. The eating plan recommends decreasing sodium intake (high sodium intake is linked to high blood pressure) and increasing consumption of foods that are low in fat and cholesterol and rich in potassium, magnesium, calcium, protein and fiber.

Potatoes, which are naturally fat-, cholesterol- and sodium-free and contain almost twice as much potassium as one banana, are a perfect vegetable for folks watching their blood pressure. Potatoes are also an excellent choice for those following the TLC diet to lower their cholesterol. TLC recommends folks avoid high-fat foods. TLC is endorsed by the American Heart Association as part of a heart-healthy regimen that can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

The point-based Weight Watchers program allows all foods in moderation and focuses on portion and caloric intake.

Interestingly, the diets that ranked lowest, Paleo and Dukan, severely limit carbohydrate intake, especially potatoes.

These eating plans indicate to me that we as a whole are shifting our thinking about food and using the important nutrients founds in fresh fruits and vegetables to help prevent and combat disease.

It’s very encouraging to me, especially when 10 years ago millions of people were completely shunning carbohydrate-rich foods.

For the last decade, the Idaho Potato Commission has made nutrition the cornerstone of its marketing initiatives. Our programs have demonstrated

that athletes of all levels eat Idaho potatoes for energy.

Idaho potatoes are certified as a heart-healthy food by the American Heart Association.

that potato recipes laden with fattening and high-caloric ingredients can easily be transformed into heart-healthy dishes.

how Idaho potatoes can be enjoyed by those afflicted with certain conditions such as celiac and heart disease.

I believe that communicating the nutritional benefits of Idaho potatoes will always be a priority for the IPC. Its nutritional profile is, in my opinion, the potato’s most important attribute. Very few foods in the produce department can stand up against this extremely versatile vegetable.