20 May 2013
Concern over the national “potassium deficit” is growing, as research continues to show that very few of us get enough of this vital nutrient––a mineral that plays a key role in reducing the risk of high blood pressure and stroke. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans listed potassium as one of the nutrients of concern in our diets. Ninety-seven percent of us do not have an adequate intake of potassium, a fact that led Purdue University nutrition researcher Berdine Martin to predict that potassium may become the next “hot” nutrient.
As reported in April in Capital Press Martin is involved in research that she believes “will provide the first data on the health benefits of potassium derived from a food source, rather than a vitamin supplement.” The research is sponsored by the nonprofit Alliance for Potato Research & Education (APRE) . Martin expects the results to show that potassium consumed in food is more fully absorbed and lasts longer in the system, because it’s slower to digest than supplements.
Martin is using white potatoes as her potassium food source. Here’s why:
Potato’s Potassium Power
As we have noted frequently in this blog and on our website, potatoes are a leading dietary source of potassium. A small (138g), plain baked potato with skin provides 738 mg of potassium––almost twice that of a medium banana, and 21% of the recommended daily allowance of this nutrient. Potatoes exceed most other veggies in potassium content per serving as well, including broccoli, tomatoes and spinach.
In short, potatoes are potassium powerhouses…and clearly have a role to play and solving our potassium dietary deficit. In a study released at the Experimental Biology 2013 Annual Meeting, APRE researchers analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2009-10 and found that that consumption of white potatoes is linked to increased potassium intake. The research was discussed as part of an APRE sponsored symposium “White Vegetables: Addressing the Nutrition Gaps,” which discussed how the potassium, fiber and magnesium content in white vegetables––notably potatoes––can help fill nutrient shortfalls in the American diet. Other research on the benefits of white vegetables is summarized in a May 2013 supplement to the journal Advances in Nutrition.
Potatoes: The White Superfood
In an environment that is often focused on the benefits of colorful fruits and vegetables, we make it part of our mission at Penobscot McCrum to promote our power color: white. White is part of the complete healthy color spectrum––maybe not as famous as green (yet), but equally important in terms of balanced nutrition.
In addition to potassium power, white potatoes–with skins–are a good source of dietary fiber, which helps lower cholesterol and protects against cancer, heart disease and other chronic diseases. Potatoes are also rich in vitamin B6 and are a good source of vitamin C; they also provide many different beneficial phytochemicals, which we described in a previous post.
Press the Potassium Advantage
With increased focus on potassium as a “hot nutrient,” all of us in the potato business have a big opportunity to capitalize on the health benefits of our product. The white potato is a nutrient-dense, healthy vegetable that’s just what the doctor ordered to solve the national potassium deficit. Let’s get busy and spread the word about spuds.