A diet high in potatoes, whether boiled, baked, mashed as well as french fries, has now been linked to an increased risk of high blood pressure in both adult men and women. Nevertheless, the study published on May 17 in The BMJ states that replacing one serving of potatoes with another serving of non-starchy vegetable reduces the hypertension risk.
While potato consumption is widely recommended thanks to the vegetable’s high potassium content, its hypertension link has never been studied until now. Still, others believe that considering an individual’s general dietary pattern and risk is more practical in determining the risk of acquiring health problems than considering a specific food item.
The researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School studied more than 187,000 men and women from three cities in the US for over a 20-year period. The participants’ blood pressure, intake of mashed, boiled, baked potatoes, french fries, and potato chips or crisps was inquired through a questionnaire.
Four or more servings of french fries, baked, boiled, or mashed potatoes weekly increased the risk of developing high blood pressure. Those women who only consumed less than one serving a month of these foods were not at risk of developing the disease.
Interestingly, eating potato chips or potato crisps did not increase the hypertension risk. Overall, the researchers believe that a potato’s high glycaemic index explains the increased risk.
Still, the research team admits that further investigations about higher potato consumption’s association with high blood pressure are needed. Moreover, they assert that their study does not confirm that potatoes are harmful to one’s health and must be excluded from dietary recommendations. The findings only support other research that showed foods with high carbohydrates can cause various health problems.
“We will continue to rely on prospective cohort studies,” the authors state. “But those that examine associations between various dietary patterns and risk of disease provide more useful insights for both policy makers and practitioners than does a focus on individual foods or nutrients.”