Thursday, May 23, 2013

Eat Your Potatoes!!! White Vegetables Are Important, Too.

Don't judge a vegetable by its color!

At least, that's what a round table discussion from Purdue says.  White vegetables like potatoes, it turns out, are just as important as their pretty green, orange and red counterparts.

That's right.  Those potatoes that people seem to think are bad for you due to their high starch content, are actually nutritional powerhouses. 

No, really!

The supplemental article published in Advances in Nutrition, White Vegetables: A Forgotten Source of Nutrients: Purdue Round Table Executive Summary, points out that white vegetables include important nutrients that the average American tends to fall short on, such as magnesium, fiber, and potassium, to name a few.

Not to mention protein.  

As it turns out,
"Potato biological value, depending on the cultivar, is between 90 and 100 and very similar to the biological value of a whole egg at 100 and higher than soybeans (84) and legumes (73). Thus, the protein quality of potatoes is higher than that of any other heavily consumed plant protein."
Who knew, right?

But it gets better.

That starch that everyone seems to fear?  It's resistant starch, which is another way of saying that it resists digestion.  That means that it acts in a capacity similar to fiber!  As it is, we don't eat enough foods that contain fiber.  That's why we have so many silly products like sweetener with fiber added into it.

Now add the fact that potatoes have up to 5.6 grams of soluble fiber per serving, as well, and things are looking pretty good!

You're probably wondering how potatoes can be so good for you if they're not brightly colored.

That's a legitimate question.  We're taught, after all, that brightly colored vegetables are more nutritional.

But here's the thing...
 " Many important nutrients, such as vitamin C, have no absorbance in the electromagnetic spectrum range visible to humans. Therefore, the human eye cannot judge directly the vitamin C content of a food. Other nutrients for which color is not an accurate measure include potassium, dietary fiber, calcium, and vitamin D were identified as nutrients of concern in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans due to low levels of intake (1)."
Well, whatdaya know?  

The bottom line in this study is simple:  Don't ignore white vegetables.  They're good for you, too.

There are a few things about this study, however, that concern me.  

This study feels like a thinly veiled attempt to push GMO acceptance onto society.  One thing that caused me to feel that way was the following sentence:
"However, the sulfur-containing amino acids (methionine and cysteine) are lower in potatoes than the other common staple crops, and scientists are currently developing transgenic forms of potatoes that have higher levels of the sulfur amino acids."
Specifically, that part about "transgenic forms of potatoes".  Research into genetic modification is also mentioned in the section on Nutritional and functional attributes of white vegetables, including technology applications.

Further, It should be pointed out that the authors are affiliated with the Purdue Department of Nutrition Science (Weaver is head of that department), which receives a minimum of $6000 per year from corporate affliates such as Cargill and Monsanto, to name a few.

I should also point out that the Alliance for Potato Research and Education placed a decent chunk of funding into this.  This has absolutely nothing to do with GMOs, to the best of my knowledge, but it does need to be pointed out, as it could have influenced the discussion findings.

My own thoughts?

Even though this article produces many questions for me, I think the basic, overall decision within it is pretty sound: 

White vegetables may not be the bad guys that people tend to think they are.  

More research needs to be done.

... And eat more vegetables.  Both colorful and white.  It can't hurt, after all, when you consider that we live in a society that consumes way too much meat.

Besides, potatoes are yummy!

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