Potatoes and Cardiovascular Risk

Many people think potatoes are an unhealtful food and fear they increase the risk of heart disease. Two studies from 2016 help clarify the issue.

Potato intake is not associated with higher risk of heart attacks, stroke, or heart failure, according to a 13-year study of 69,000 Swedes, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

However, a study of 187,000 American health professionals, publishedin the journal BMJ, found that those who ate the most potatoes (at least four servings a week) were at modestly increased risk for developing hypertension over the course of a decade or two.

One difference between the studies: The Swedes ate mostly boiled potatoes, while Americans tend to eat more French fries, which are usually heavily salted and have been linked to a variety of risks in previous research.

Pota­toes have dietary pluses (notably potassium and fiber) and minuses (relatively high calories for a vegetable and, depending on how they are pre­pared and eaten, a rapid effect on blood sugar—that is, a high glycemic index).

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