Eating Potatoes Linked to Type 2 Diabetes

potatoes tied to type 2 diabetesConsuming potatoes especially french fries may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, but replacing potatoes with whole grains may lower the risk, according to the latest study conducted by Harvard researchers and published online by Diabetes Care Journals.

According to Dr. Qi Sun, Sc.D of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts and colleagues analyzed data from male and female health professionals in the United States who didn’t have diabetes, cancer or cardiovascular disease.

Dr. Sun and his team collected 70,773 women from the Nurses’ Health Study (1984-2010), 87,739 women from the Nurses’ Health Study II (1991-2011) and 40,669 men from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (1986-2010) were evaluated to assess how potato consumption affected the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Participants who ate french fries had a higher risk of type 2 diabetes (pooled HR for every three servings/week, 1.19) than those who ate baked, boiled, or mashed potatoes (same HR, 1.04), respectively.

One of Dr. Sun’s team, Isao Muraki, MD, PhD, of the Osaka Centre for Cancer and Cardiovascular Disease Prevention, Japan, and Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts commented…

“Although potatoes are considered a vegetable in the US Guideline of Healthy Eating, potatoes should not be regarded as a key component of a healthful diet. These data support the notion that potatoes should be considered a source of carbohydrates like grains, especially refined grains, rather than vegetables,”

“Potatoes contain a large amount of starch and a relatively small amount of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and polyphenols,” he added, “Lower quality and quantity of carbohydrate is associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes.”

In addition, when potatoes are served hot their starch becomes more easily digestible and raises blood glucose levels more quickly, he explained.

On the other hand, Dr. Sun explained…

“Potatoes should not be regarded as healthy vegetables. Instead, potatoes are rich in starchy that can significantly lead to deteriorated glucose response and a higher diabetes risk when the consumption levels are high. For people who have elevated risk of developing diabetes, potato consumption should be reduced.”

Potato is considered as a vegetable in certain dietary recommendations, such as in the U.S. MyPlate food guide, whereas in the U.K. national food guide, potato is grouped with cereal as sources of carbohydrates. Potato foods are typically higher in glycemic index and glycemic load, but data are rare regarding whether individual and total potato foods are associated with chronic diseases. In this analysis, we focused on diabetes and found that a higher consumption of total potato foods and individual potato foods, especially french fries, was associated with an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes in three large cohort studies of ~200 thousand U.S. men and women. In addition, we found that increased potato food consumption over time was associated with a subsequent increased risk of developing diabetes.”

When asked what recommendations does Dr. Sun have for future research as a result of this study, he replied…

“The role of refined carbohydrates, from either foods such as potatoes or sugar added to foods and beverages, in the etiology of cardiometabolic diseases, including heart disease and diabetes, shall be further elucidated and substantiated.”


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