Potatoes Are The No. 1 Source of Potassium

Published in the February 2012 Issue Published online: Feb 06, 2012 David Fairbourn
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A frequently expressed concern in the ongoing public health debate is how fresh fruits and vegetables, particularly those that are nutrient dense, are not affordable to the average consumer. United States Potato Board research presented Sept. 27, 2011, at the American Dietetic Association's (ADA) Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE) demonstrated how potatoes are one of the best nutritional values in the produce department. They provide significantly better nutritional value per dollar than most other raw vegetables. White potatoes offer the largest and most affordable source of potassium per serving of any vegetable or fruit.


Potatoes = More Veggies

Dr. Adam Drewnowski and colleagues from the University of Washington merged nutrient composition data from the USDA Food and Nutrition Database for Dietary Studies (FNDDS 2.0) with the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) national food prices database. Frequency of consumption data was obtained from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES 2003-4). The Affordable Nutrition Index (ANI) was the metric used to assess nutritional value per dollar for potatoes and for other vegetables.

The research indicates potatoes are 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 white potatoes, which are a good source of potassium, was half that of most other vegetables.

"Potatoes deserve credit for contributing to higher diet quality and increasing vegetable consumption," said lead researcher Drewnowski. "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 NHANES dietary intake showed putting potatoes on the plate actually improved 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.

The release of this research has drawn a flurry of media attention. To date, the NHANES research has been covered by 231 media outlets for a total of 20 million impressions to date. The USPB kicked off the announcement with a media blitz at the ADA annual Food & Nutrition Conference and Expo, held September 24-27 in San Diego, Calif., where the research was presented at a poster session. The annual conference represents the world's largest gathering of food and nutrition experts-9,000-plus registered dietitians, policy makers, health-care providers, researchers and industry leaders.

During the conference, the USPB hosted a private lunch event featuring Dr. Drewnowski, for 13 highly influential media RDs at Searsucker, a very trendy new restaurant in San Diego owned by "Top Chef's" Brian Malarkey. The RDs in attendance represented dozens of national publications and media outlets including Health, Eating Well, WebMD.com, SELF, Parents, Family Circle, Relish, Cooking Light, Fitness, Shape, SheKnows.com, Food Network, FitTV, HealthCastle.com and a host of others.

Also while at FNCE, the USPB participated in the "What's in Store" Supermarket RD event, a networking reception and dinner specifically targeted to supermarket registered dietitians. The team served up Crab-Filled Potato Bites while networking and sharing the new research with this important audience of about 30 supermarket dieticians.


Top-Tier Targets

On the 27th, the research was presented at a scientific poster session during FNCE, and a press release was distributed on the same day on the national wire and through EurekAlert!, an online, global news service operated by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world's largest, general scientific society. Coverage highlights resulting from the press release distribution include: UPI.com, MedicalNewsToday.com, AllHeadlineNews.com and the Sacramento Bee and substantial social media buzz.

The USPB team continues to target top-tier health and nutrition reporters with the new research. As a result of the launch activities and media outreach efforts, positive feedback has already been received from many members of the media:

 Jill Melton, Editor-in-Chief of Relish magazine, is interested in featuring USPB recipes on the website and, potentially, in an upcoming issue of the magazine; she also posted on their Facebook page and Tweeted;

 Michelle Dudash, Media RD, requested a shipment of potato types to use in a broadcast segment on Sonoran Living;

 Johanna Dwyer, contributor to Nutrition Today, is interested in working with the USPB on a journal article about potato nutrition;

 Rosemary Black, food editor for Parade magazine, requested more information for an upcoming potato story;

 Mary-Lee Chin, Media RD, plans to pitch a potato segment to her local broadcast contacts in Denver;

 Devin Alexander, media personality, shared a segment featuring potato nutrition messages from her new show "America Now";

 Sidney Fry, RD for Cooking Light magazine, has a potato feature planned for the winter issue;

 Gloria Tsang, RD and Editor-in-Chief for HealthCastle.com, requested a copy of the research abstract;

 Tara Gidus, Media RD, is considering a potato feature for her blog on Healthline.com;

 Elisa Zied, Media RD, is interested in writing a story about potatoes for MSNBC.com.


For a copy of the research abstract, or more information on the NHANES Research, contact USPB Public Relations Manager Meredith Myers at meredithm@uspotatoes.com or (303) 873-2333.

For more information, and to see the complete USPB Domestic Marketing Public Relations Long Range Plan for Fiscal Years 2012-2016, visit www.uspotatoes.com/downloads/Public%20Relations_NEW.pdf.

For more information on the USPB as the nation's potato marketing organization, positioned as the "catalyst for positive change," and the central organizing force in implementing programs that will increase demand for potatoes, visit www.uspotatoes.com