In a study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), US based researchers have linked higher intake of potatoes to increased risk of high blood pressure. The study reports that having too much potatoes ( 4 times or more a week) in any form, be it baked, fried, cooked, boiled can possibly increase the risk of high blood pressure. The study also suggests that women are at higher risk, though both sexes are affected. The study was conducted in Boston USA.
How Was The Research Conducted?
The study is based on on examination of more than 187,000 men and women in 3 large studies in the US. The researchers compared the health of those who had eaten potatoes 4 or more times a week with those who had done so only once a month.
And, What Are The Key Findings Of The Research?
The participants in the group that consumed potatoes 4 or more times a week had a higher risk of hypertension (high blood pressure) in all three studies. While the researchers do not claim to have established conclusively that potatoes cause high blood pressure, they say they have found that higher long-term intake of baked, boiled or mashed potatoes was significantly associated with an increased risk of hypertension in women, independent of numerous other predictors of risk of hypertension, including dietary factors such as wholegrain intake and whole fruit and vegetable intake.
How Could This Happen?
The researchers are of the view that the risk of hypertension may be because potatoes have a high glycaemic load, especially boiled potatoes. This leads to increased blood sugar levels after meals and a high glycaemic load meal has been associated with endothelial dysfunction, oxidative stress, and inflammation, all potentially important mechanisms in the development of hypertension. The report therefore advises replacing potatoes as much as possible with a non-starchy vegetable to ensure healthy eating.
What Do Nutritional Experts Have To Say?
Nutritional experts are of the opinion that potatoes are an excellent source of fiber, carbohydrates and vitamin C. They advise that your daily diet should be based on starchy foods including potatoes, which are best eaten with the skins on to increase fiber consumption. But what is important to understand is the fact that how you cook and what you eat with your potatoes can increase the salt, fat and sugar in your diet. So keeping an eye on these, as well as stopping smoking and being more active, will help reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure.
So, What Should You Do?
It is important to understand that this type of study can only show an association, not cause and effect. One cannot therefore conclude that potatoes cause high blood pressure directly. Although a higher consumption of potatoes, such as mashed potatoes or french fries, was associated with risk of high blood pressure, it is still possible that other factors in the diet or lifestyle are also affecting the results. So, to get all the health benefits from potatoes and at the same time to avoid any adverse effects, moderation is the key.
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