Nutrient-rich potatoes may be part of a healthy diet for adolescent girls, study shows

Adolescence is a critical period for the evolution of cardiometabolic risk factors, which are largely influenced by diet and lifestyle. Understanding these risk factors is essential for developing effective dietary guidelines for disease prevention targeting this critical age group. A recently published study in British nutrition magazine found that 9-17-year-old girls who consumed up to one cup of potatoes a day did not have an increased risk of being overweight or developing high blood pressure, dyslipidemia, or impaired fasting glucose by the end of the study in late adolescence.

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025, girls ages 9 to 18 are encouraged to consume the equivalent of 1 to 3 cups of vegetables a day, depending on their calorie needs, but most do not meet these guidelines. In this study, the highest levels of potato consumption ranged from 1/5 to 1 cup per day, and no adverse effects were observed at this level.

Our results show that nutrient-rich potatoes can be part of a healthy diet for young girls during this important period of growth and development. There is growing evidence that the overall quality of the diet is what really matters for maintaining heart health. Potatoes are an affordable food, with a number of valuable nutrients, and our research shows that a moderate intake of potatoes, along with many other vegetables, can be a regular part of a healthy diet model. “

Lynn L. Moore, Ph.D., MPH, senior author of the study, Boston University

Higher intake of all forms of potatoes (including fried) between 9 and 11 years was associated with higher intake of potassium and dietary fiber, two nutrients of public health concern,[i] as well as vitamin C, vitamin B6 and magnesium. The black girls in this study with the highest potato intake also consumed more starch-free fruits and vegetables and had higher diet quality scores.

Study design, strengths and limitations

The researchers analyzed data from nearly 2,000 subjects (approximately 50% black, 50% white) from the National Growth and Health Survey, a longitudinal study of the development of obesity and other cardiovascular outcomes in adolescent girls.

  • For girls aged 9-11 years, the researchers analyzed data on the total intake of potatoes (white and sweet), as well as individual intakes of fried and unfried potatoes.
  • For girls aged 9-17 years, the researchers analyzed data on the total intake of potatoes (white and sweet).

The diet was assessed using 3-day dietary records in the beginning when the girls were 9-10 years old and in the following years of follow-up 2-5, 7, 8 and 10. The intake of potatoes (both white and sweet potatoes) ) is derived from the total vegetable portions. Anthropometric measurements of body fat and body composition and blood pressure are measured annually. In addition, fasting triglycerides, other lipids, and glucose were measured in later adolescence (18-20 years of age).

Multiple measurements of a number of potentially confusing variables were examined, including socioeconomic status, body mass index (BMI), changes in height, physical activity, television viewing, food and nutrient group intake, and dietary quality measured. from the Healthy Eating Index (HEI) -2015. The strengths of the study include its forward-looking design, as well as the use of multiple sets of three-day diet records, which is considered the gold standard method for evaluating diet. Researchers have also repeatedly measured cardiometabolic risk factors and most potential confusing factors.

Researchers acknowledge the limitations of the study, such as the reliance on self-reported dietary intake by adolescents, who may have difficulty accurately estimating portion sizes and reporting details. However, parents and other carers were actively involved in supplementing these diets, especially in the earlier years of the study. Researchers have not been able to assess the effects of very high levels of potato intake, as few girls report consuming more than one cup of the equivalent of potatoes a day. They also failed to analyze the differences between the consumption of white and sweet potatoes, given the low intake of sweet potatoes in the study population. Finally, the researchers were unable to control fasting glucose or triglyceride baseline values ​​due to missing or unreliable data at baseline.

This study was selected as the book of the month by the Nutrition Society. Each month, the editors-in-chief of the Nutrition Society’s journals choose an article of particular interest or originality and / or because it challenges previously conceived notions in the science of nutrition and public health. The study manuscript “Potato consumption not associated with increased cardiometabolic risk in adolescent girls” was published in British nutrition magazine ( Authors include Joanna Yannaku, Menjie Yuan, R. Taylor Pickering, Martha R. Singer and Lynn L. Moore, Boston University. In addition to funding from the National Institutes of Health, funding was provided by the Potato Research and Education Alliance (APRE); APRE has no contribution to the interpretation of the results or the development of the manuscript.


Potato Research and Education Alliance (APRE)

Reference in the magazine:

Yannaku, I., et al. (2021) Potato consumption is not associated with an increased cardiometabolic risk in adolescent girls. British nutrition magazine.

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