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Study Finds Potatoes Can Help You Lose Weight

A new study finds that despite their bad reputation, potatoes can be part of a healthy diet. The lowly spud has been associated with weight gain and an increased risk for Type 2 diabetes. People with insulin resistance have been told to avoid eating potatoes. But a new study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food debunks these potato myths by finding that eating potatoes does not increase the risk for diabetes, and can actually help you lose weight. According to researchers at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center (PBRC) at Louisiana State University, potatoes are filled with important nutrients and packed with health benefits. "We demonstrated that contrary to common belief, potatoes do not negatively affect blood glucose levels," said Candida Rebello, a registered dietitian and assistant professor at Pennington Biomedical who was co-investigator of the study. "People tend to eat the same weight of food regardless of calorie content in order to feel full. By eating foods with a heavier weight that are low in calories, you can easily reduce the number of calories you consume.” Potatoes are a nutrient-dense food so by replacing some meat with potatoes in their diet, the study participants ate less and found themselves feeling fuller, quicker. Rebello said some individuals couldn't even finish their meals. "In effect, you can lose weight with little effort," she says. The study participants ranged in age from 18 to 60 and were overweight, had obesity, or insulin resistance. They were fed controlled diets of common foods including either beans, peas, and meat or fish, or white potatoes with meat or fish. Both diets were high in fruits and vegetables but substituted 40% of typical meat consumption with either beans and peas or potatoes. Previous studies have shown that eating beans and peas improves blood glucose levels in individuals with newly diagnosed Type 2 diabetes, according to PBRC. The potatoes were boiled with the skin on and refrigerated for 12 to 24 hours to increase their fiber content. They were incorporated into lunch and dinner dishes such as shepherd's pie and creamy shrimp and potatoes, and served as side dishes like roasted potato wedges and mashed potatoes. "We prepared the potatoes in a way to maximize their fiber content," said Rebello, saying that variety was important to the study participants so the researchers demonstrated how versatile the relatively inexpensive spud could be as part of a healthy diet. "People don't stick to a diet they don't like or isn't varied enough." The researchers found equal health benefits in the diet with potatoes as the diet that featured beans and peas. PBRC's executive director John Kirwan, the principal investigator of the study, said that obesity is a complex disease, and research must develop strategies that both local and global communities can use to live healthier lives. "These new data on the impact of potatoes on our metabolism is an exciting addition to the arsenal of evidence we have to do just that," he said.
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