Herbs and Helpers
For decades, Potatoes have been branded unhealthy by various officials
But now, researchers claim that consuming the tuber is actually good for you
Experts are pushing for potatoes to be reassessed for their ‘clear’ health benefits
In a new report, they compiled evidence from various studies to make their claim
For decades, potatoes have been branded unhealthy and we have been advised to avoid consuming too many of them.
But now, researchers say that consuming the popular tuber – used to make chips and crisps – is actually good for you.
In fact, they bizarrely claim that you could eat potatoes, and nothing else, for the rest of your life and ‘remain pretty healthy’.
In a medical U-turn, scientists who reviewed a host of evidence are pushing for potatoes to be reassessed for their ‘clear’ health benefits.
They have uncovered evidence in a 60-page report that the humble crop could slash the risk of having a heart attack and may even protect against dementia.
Professor Derek Stewart, from the James Hutton Institute in Scotland, said: ‘The studies we looked at found a whole raft of different benefits.
‘If you have to live the rest of your life on just one thing, you could do it on potatoes and remain pretty healthy. There are not many crops you can say that about.
‘Potatoes are a great source of loads of vitamins and macro and micro minerals, which many people spend money buying supplements for.
‘There are also non-nutrients like carotenoids and polyphenols [powerful compounds]. They’re pretty good for dietary fibre too.’
Professor Stewart continued: ‘Epidemiology studies have been carried out on huge populations, looking at potatoes and cardiovascular disease.
‘And what came up there was replacing meat in the diet with vegetables and potatoes is linked with a lower risk of heart attack.
‘Other research has found a strong association with enhanced cognitive function in the elderly if they’re eating potatoes.’
The findings, compiled in a 60-page report, state that potatoes are a significant source of vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin B9.
WHAT IS THE SECRET TO COOKING ROAST POTATOES?
No Sunday roast is complete without a liberal helping of roast potatoes – but achieving perfect spuds can prove quite the challenge.
Luckily, Michelin-starred chef Heston Blumenthal has now revealed his trick for achieving roasties that are crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside, every time.
The experimental chef does subscribe to the tried and tested method of parboiling ahead of roasting, but he says the trick is to extend the boiling time.
While many cooks will agree that parboiling potatoes for 10 minutes is more than enough time, Heston tells The Guardian they should be left bubbling away for at least 20 minutes.
Living up to his reputation for the unconventional, the chef also recommends adding the potato peelings to the boiling water, a trick he says enhances the flavour.
Heston isn’t the only chef to have an unorthodox approach to his potatoes with The Guardian reporting that MasterChef winner Steven Edwards forgoes parboiling entirely.
Steven instead puts his spuds in the microwave for 4-5 minutes so that roasting time is bought down to ten minutes rather than 30.
Writing in the report, they said together ‘these are responsible’ for stopping the downward spiral of ‘a plethora of degenerative diseases’.
Dr Mark Taylor was also involved in the report, titled ‘Potato – A basis for human nutrition and health benefits’.
Writing in the document, the authors said: ‘Potato should be reassessed as a source of nutrient and beneficial chemicals as well as a food
‘Compared with other sources, such as fruit, meat and leafy vegetables, potatoes are often considered as lesser sources of vitamins and minerals. This is not correct.’
‘It is clear from the information outlined above that potato is an important part of the diet for good nutritional health and should be considered as a source of multiple nutritional benefits.’
The report, which hasn’t been published in a scientific journal, also showed that the skins of potatoes, particularly Jersey Royals, are especially nutritious.
Minerals in potatoes – which can be mashed, fried or baked – can ‘survive processing and cooking methods’.
But the researchers warned humans should avoid eating too many french fries due to their significant links to obesity because of how they are cooked.
However, they added that potato has a very satiety index compared to foods with an equivalent carbohydrate content.
A lower risk of heart attacks was noted for adults who replaced meat in their diet with vegetables or potatoes.
And preliminary trials show potatoes can ‘enhance cognitive function’, the report adds. A decline in cognitive function can lead to dementia.
They said this was important because the number of dementia victims are expected to rocket in the coming years.
The report was comissioned by the Agricultural and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) – an organisation funded by farmers and growers.
WHAT WAS THE IRISH POTATO FAMINE?
The potato famine of Ireland in the mid-1800s is considered one of the most devastating disasters to hit the nation.
It claimed the lives of more than a million people, and caused another million to emigrate.
The potato disease known as late blight or potato blight was responsible for the Great Famine of 1845-52.
It causes spots on potatoes to turn grey-green and water-soaked. They then enlarge and turn dark brown and firm, with a rough surface.
The disease meant the Irish potato crop, on which the poor were dependent, totally failed in successive years.
The pathogen protist P. infestans was finally discovered the be the cause – a type of algae that spread across the country and devastated the crops.
Source: Daily Mail
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