The Health Consequences of Eating Potatoes

by Sahil Rawal (’19)

 

potato

Fig. 1 Eating too many servings of potatoes may cause hypertension.

Potatoes have been a staple in our diet for a very long time; they were recently added to the US healthy meals program after they were shown to increase potassium levels and lower blood pressure. Despite this, the effect of increased consumption of potatoes on blood pressure is still unclear.

As a result, researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital decided to test how increasing the number of servings of baked, boiled, and mashed potatoes eaten in a week affects hypertension. Their observations showed that there was an increased risk of hypertension in women if the serving size of any type of potato increased from once a month to four times a week. Furthermore, the study also found that if one of the four servings of any type of potato was replaced with a non-starchy vegetable, such as corn or lima beans, the incidence of hypertension decreased from a hazard ratio of 0.98 to 0.93. Although this study was controlled for many factors, there were some limitations that could potentially alter the findings, such as the participants self-reporting the presence of hypertension. This may have altered this study due to potential misdiagnoses. Overall, these conclusions suggest that potato intake should be carefully monitored as to not adversely affect blood pressure.

 

References:

  1. Borgi et al., Potato intake and incidence of hypertension: results from three prospective Us cohort studies. The BMJ (2016), doi: 10.1136/bmj.i2351.
  1. Image Source: http://parentinghealthybabies.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/potato.jpg
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