Hot Potato

September 5, 2017 in Health by Joyce Bunderson

Just the other day, we were at the top of a lovely building in Salt Lake City. Any meal there would have been enhanced by the view – mountains, city and clear blue skies accented by a few cumulous clouds. For some unexplained reason Dr. Grandpa chose meatloaf, which came with mashed potatoes and a lovely sauce. We shared our two meals (mine was a salmon salad). I must admit, his choice of a personal comfort food was not only one of my comfort foods also, but it was prepared extremely well. Yum – I can still remember the flavors. It was topped with a mass of minutely grated crispy-fried onion and served with steamed broccoli spears.

Not only is meat and potatoes a rarity at our home, I admit it; fluffy white russet potatoes are a special occasion food. This was a special occasion for us, and an unusual menu selection for us. Regarding potatoes, sometimes I get an idea in my mind and it sticks. The idea in my mind is that the white part is a little like eating candy. The flesh of the potato is nourishing, but it is extremely starchy and can bump up blood sugar fairly easily. Since Dr. Grandpa has diabetes, I don’t bother with potatoes very often. But we do enjoy them, and have them occasionally.

For the population as a whole, it is far from occasional. The potato is the most consumed vegetable in the United States and the tomato is second; the reason according to the USDA is because of the high consumption of pizza and French fries.

Recently the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a study that found that eating fried potatoes (think French fries, potato chips, hash brown, tater tots) two or more times a week was associated with twice the risk of dying prematurely, compared to eating fried potatoes no more than once a month. Ouch!

Certainly, they will do other larger studies with larger sample sizes to confirm the observation; but unfortunately, potatoes, especially when deep-fried as in French Fries and chips, have a preponderance of evidence against the presumption that they are innocent of any damage to metabolism or cardiovascular health.

So, best not to bet against the evidence that supports the strong ill effects. Whether fried potatoes twice a week increases risk of dying two times, or more, or less, it would be wise to cut back on fried potatoes well below two times a week. This does not mean you can’t enjoy them on special occasions. It is likely that the follow-up studies will prove that fried potatoes are indeed a ‘hot potato.’