Consumption of white potatoes is linked to increased intake of potassium, according to a new study released at Experimental Biology 2013. For each additional kilocalorie of white potatoes consumed, there was a 1.6 mg increase in potassium intake among adults 19-years-old and older, and a 1.7 mg increase among children and teens from 2 to 18 years of age. Gender, age, race/ethnicity and educational attainment, but not income or body mass index, were also highly predictive of potassium intake.
Potassium is considered a shortfall nutrient of public health concern because 97 percent of Americans do not have an adequate intake of potassium. Maureen Storey, PhD, co-author of the study and president and CEO of the Alliance for Potato Research and Education (APRE) noted, "Very few Americans get enough potassium, which is a key nutrient helping control blood pressure. Our study shows the white potato is a particularly nutrient-rich vegetable which significantly increases potassium intake among adults, teens and children."
The 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee concluded there is considerable evidence demonstrating how higher intake of potassium is associated with lower blood pressure in adults. Diets containing foods which are good sources of potassium and low in sodium may reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke. Potassium-rich white potatoes, with or without the skin, are naturally free of fat, saturated fat and cholesterol and have little sodium. For example, a small (138 g) skin-on, plain baked potato provides 738 mg potassium and only 128 calories. A large banana (136 g) provides about the same number of calories, but far less potassium (487 mg). Calorie for calorie, the white potato delivers more potassium than bananas.
Even without its skin, the flesh of the white potato is a potassium powerhouse. Just one cup (122 g) of baked potato without the skin provides 477 mg potassium. Storey noted, "The nutrient `beauty' of the white potato is not just skin deep. The flesh alone is also a significant source of key vitamins and minerals, such as potassium."