By Katabella Roberts
A team of researchers at Edith Cowan University (EDU) in Joondalup found that health issues associated with potatoes may actually be down to how they are prepared and what they are eaten with after analyzing a previous study on the issue.
The study was published in Diabetes Care, a peer-reviewed journal by the American Diabetes Association for health care providers, and examined the relationship between the intake of vegetables/ potatoes and the incidence of type 2 diabetes.
More than 54,000 people, aged between 50-64, reported their dietary intake for the long-term Danish Diet, Cancer and Health study via a dietary and lifestyle questionnaire over 12 months.
An analysis of that study, led by Dr. Nicola Bondonno from ECU’s Nutrition and Health Innovation Research Institute, found people who consumed the most vegetables were 21 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who consumed the least amount of vegetables, after adjusting for lifestyle and demographic confounding variables.
Vegetables Can Lower Diabetes Risk
Researchers also found while potatoes didn’t lower the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, they also didn’t have any negative effects.
“In Denmark, people consume potatoes prepared in many different ways; in our study, we could distinguish between the different preparation methods,” Pratik Pokharel, a PhD candidate who worked on the study, said in a press release.
“When we separated boiled potatoes from mashed potatoes, fries, or crisps, boiled potatoes were no longer associated with a higher risk of diabetes: they had a null effect,” Pokharel added.
Pokharel noted that among the individuals who took part in the study, those who ate the most amount of potatoes also consumed them with additional items such as extra butter, red meat, and soft drinks, which are known to increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
“When you account for that, boiled potatoes are no longer associated with diabetes,” Pokharel said. “It’s only fries and mashed potatoes, the latter likely because it is usually made with butter, cream, and the like.”
Researchers at EDU said the findings also suggest that vegetables could play a key role in reducing Type 2 diabetes; with individuals who took part in the study displaying a significantly lower risk of developing the condition when they ate plenty of leafy greens and other vegetables, specifically, spinach, lettuce, broccoli, and cauliflower.
Potatoes Can Aid Weight Loss, Study Finds
“The finding that vegetables lower diabetes risk is crucial for public health recommendations, and we shouldn’t ignore it,” Pokharel added.
More than 37 million Americans have diabetes, which works out to roughly 1 in 10 people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Of the more than 37 million living with the health condition—in which cells in the body do not respond normally to insulin—around 90-95 percent have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
Typically, type 2 diabetes develops in people over the age of 45 but the CDC notes a rising number of diagnoses in children and teenagers.
Symptoms of diabetes include increased urination, particularly at night; increased thirst or hunger, tingling in the hands or feet, tiredness, dry skin, and blurred vision, among others. The medical condition is diagnosed through a simple blood test.
Experts recommend managing diabetes through a healthy diet and active lifestyle although insulin and other injectable medications are prescribed in some cases.
The latest study comes shortly after a separate study published in November in the peer-reviewed medical publication Journal of Medicinal Food found that potatoes do not increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes risk and can actually aid in weight loss.