Avoid This Common Vegetable to Keep a Healthy Heart

  • All preparations of this food contain some health risk, but one is the worst. Find out more…
  • Could the USDA be to blame for “potentially important public health ramifications”? Harvard researchers think so.
  • Find healthy substitutions with just the click of a mouse. Discover how…

Dear Living Well Daily Reader,

The modern diet consists of a wide variety of foods.

And here at Living Well Daily, we often harp on the dangers of sugary, carb-loaded, and synthetic-soaked processed foods. Today we are going to talk about an unsuspected pantry staple that may be wrecking your heart health.

In fact, this food is so common that the average American ate 111.2 pounds of this potentially dangerous tuber in 2014.1

With stats like that, there is a very good chance you have at least a pound or two in your kitchen right now.

But its popularity is just the start of this problem…

It only takes four portions a week of this food to increase your chance of high blood pressure.

This means even though it wouldn’t be shocking to find that you are eating this food every day, you don’t need to — adding this food to only a handful of meals increases your risk of poor heart health.

And this is especially true for a one set of folks. We will get to that in just a moment.

However, there is one preparation of this food that is universally dangerous — it affects all who eat it.

With a few simple dietary changes, you can easily reduce your intake of this heart hazard. We will share these tips later on.

First, let’s address the dietary culprit plaguing or dinner plates…


--Pass on the Potatoes

Spuds, taters, mashers — no matter what you like to call them, one study is now calling them dangerous.

Last week The BMJ released a study reporting folk who have higher intakes of boiled, baked, or mashed potatoes, and french fries produce an increased risk of high blood pressure.

Let’s break the study down.

Researchers based at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School combined and analyzed data that included over 187,000 men and women during a 20-year period.

During this two-decade span, over 77,000 of those studied were diagnosed with hypertension.

Among the men in the study, there was no high blood pressure risk increase for those eating baked, boiled, or mashed potatoes weekly.

However, among women, those who ate four or more servings of potatoes weekly were more likely to have high blood pressure than women who ate less than one serving of potatoes a month.

In fact, women who ate large amounts of baked, boiled, or mashed potatoes experienced a 13 percent increased risk of high blood pressure.

Men and women who ate french fries both experienced an elevated risk for hypertension. Yet another reason to avoid them!

But shockingly, no correlations were made for increased incidence of high blood pressure in men or women who ate potato chips. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean they are a safe choice.

While potatoes have often been touted as a heart healthy food due to their high potassium levels, this study shows them in a new light.

According to the researchers, one reason why potatoes may have a negative heart health effect, particularly for women in this case, is due to potatoes having a high glycemic index.

This means their sugar content can impact insulin and blood sugar levels. High levels may lead to insulin resistance, which can in turn cause high blood pressure, due to sodium retention.

--Get a Fresh Start

While these results were informative, researchers need more information about the dietary patterns of the participants in order to make a direct correlation between potatoes and high blood pressure.

Meaning a more comprehensive view of other foods included in participant’s diets patterns. For instance, knowing the types of condiments the participants added to the potatoes or what they ate them with may lead to clearer results.

In fact, in a linked editorial, Mark Harris of the University of New South Wales and Dr. Rachel Laws of Deakin University report:

We will continue to rely on prospective cohort studies, but those that examine associations between various dietary patterns and risk of disease provide more useful insights for both policy makers and practitioners than does a focus on individual foods or nutrients.2

Nevertheless, the researchers believe their findings “have potentially important public health ramifications, as they do not support a potential benefit from the inclusion of potatoes as vegetables in government food programs but instead support a harmful effect that is consistent with adverse effects of high carbohydrate intakes seen in controlled feeding studies.” 2

Simply put, the researchers believe Americans may be healthier if potatoes (including french fries) aren’t served in place of nonstarchy vegetables in U.S. government healthy meal programs, including school lunches and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).

An easy way to get potatoes out of your diet is to replace them with nonstarchy vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, squash, and leafy greens.

Oftentimes, nonstarchy vegetables are just as affordable and accessible as potatoes. Plus, when you compare nonstarchy vegetables (fresh or frozen) with many varieties of frozen potatoes (like french fries), they are less processed and have fewer added ingredients.

If you are interested in getting more fresh vegetables in your diet, you can find a local farmers market using the National Farmers Market Directory. Click here to get started.

Live well,

Natalie Moore
Managing editor, Living Well Daily

P.S. Please send me your supplement questions! nmoore@lfb.org


[1] U.S. per Capita Utilization of Potatoes, by Category: 1970-2014

[2] Potato intake and incidence of hypertension: results from three prospective US cohort studies

[3] Are there bad foods or just bad diets?

[4] Nutrition Facts

Natalie Moore

Written By Natalie Moore

Natalie Moore is a dedicated health researcher with a passion for finding healthy, natural, and science-based solutions. After a decade of direct healthcare experience in western and natural medicine, she was involved in public health research before joining Living Well Daily.

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