If your usual answer to ‘Would you like fries with that?’ is a resounding yes, you are going to be a sad fry on this Friday.
We’ve always known that choosing a side of potatoes over, say, steamed broccoli was a less healthy option. However, a new study led by Dr. Lea Borgi, an internist at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston,
published in BMJ suggests potatoes are even worse for us than we thought.
And before you baked potato-heads get all high and mighty, the bad news isn’t just about fried potatoes. The research showed that even when we enjoy our potatoes baked or boiled, it increases our risk of hypertension, or high blood pressure. Oddly, the one form of potato not associated with a risk were potato chips. Also, the risk seemed to be specifically worse in women.
The research examined 20 years of data, covering 187,000 men and women who were enrolled in three different studies. Every few years, the participants would complete questionnaires about their diet, specifying their potato intake. These potatoes were then categorized into French fries, potato chips, baked, boiled, and mashed. Eating greater quantities of any of these potatoes led to increased hypertension risk, and it didn’t matter what kind of potatoes. Potato chips or fries were no more risky than baked potatoes.
“In three prospective cohorts of US women and men, we found that higher long term intake of baked, boiled, or mashed potatoes was significantly associated with an increased risk of hypertension in women, independent of numerous other predictors of risk of hypertension including dietary factors such as whole grain intake and whole fruit and vegetable intake. In addition, higher consumption of French fries was associated with incident hypertension in all three cohorts, whereas potato chip intake was associated with no increased risk. To our knowledge, this study is the first to examine potato consumption and the incidence of hypertension,” they wrote in the study.
The fact that white potatoes are really bad for you is one of the world's worst kept secrets, says Dr. Bruce Roseman, author of The Addictocarb Diet. The reasons are simple. “They have a very high glycemic index, which promotes diabetes. Even more important is that [the high index] directly stimulates the addiction center of the brain, leading to out of control eating, especially foods that are extremely bad for you. The fact that it is now being shown that it raises blood pressure should not be a surprise to anyone.”