Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

A second serving keeps the doctor away

Potatoes provide the potassium we need

  • Print

What shocks my friends when I order a "blue" steak? No, it's not the fact that it's extra rare that gets their attention. It's the fact that I also always tell the waiter, "Don't forget the double order of mashed potatoes!" Now, a report from the University of California shows I'm not committing a mortal, dietary sin. In fact, potatoes can even help weight loss.

Critics of mashed potatoes contend they have a high glycemic index (GI). This means that potatoes are quickly broken down into sugar, triggering a rapid increase in blood sugar and production of insulin. But it's a myth that the potato's high GI is responsible for the epidemic of obesity and Type 2 diabetes.

My bet is that the Irish would have hung such critics during the Irish famine in the 1840s. In fact, you could even threaten to hang them today because few studies support their theory. Rather, it's the excessive amount of calories of any kind that's increasing body fat and killing people, not my double order of mashed potatoes.

You could even go a point further and argue that we should eat more mashed potatoes. The U.S. Academy of Sciences estimates that we need between 1,875 to 5635 milligrams (mgs) of potassium daily and that most North Americans get only half that amount.

Dr. David Young, Professor of Physiology at the University of Mississippi, to get this point across, must have raised a lot of eyebrows when he remarked, "Potassium is like sex and money: you can't get too much."

Dr. Deborah Green, a researcher at Queen's Medical Centre in Honolulu, Hawaii, studied the effects of potassium on 5,888 men and women ages 65 and over for eight years. Green discovered that patients with low potassium were twice as likely to suffer from an ischemic stroke in which a blood clot cuts off the supply of blood to the brain. Adequate amounts of potassium help to keep the blood from clotting, decreasing the risk of this disease.

Potassium also decreases the risk of stroke by helping to fight hypertension. For instance, it's been shown that restricting potassium intake for just 10 days causes an increase in blood pressure.

Today, with an aging population, a large number of people have hypertension and are prescribed water pills (diuretics) to control this problem.

If these patients are also low in potassium they are 2.5 times more likely to have a stroke. If they're taking diuretics, have an irregular heart rate, and also low potassium, they're 10 more likely to suffer a stroke.

This is called the, "Matthew Effect." You can live to a ripe old age being a little reckless. But get too many things wrong and it's another story.

I'm getting other health benefits from a double helping of mashed potatoes. For one thing I'm not getting obese. Potatoes are relatively low in calories, about 130 for a medium sized, plain, baked potato.

A double order of mashed also helps satisfy the hunger reflex because it's filling, making it less likely you'll reach for a high calorie dessert. And according to researchers at the University of California, potatoes contain proteinase inhibitors which suppress appetite.

When dining at home I also get a good helping of fiber as my mashed white potatoes have the skin left on them. In addition, I get more potassium than a banana, vitamin C, some protein, iron, magnesium, beneficial plant compounds and B vitamins such as B6, thiamin, niacin, folic acid and riboflavin. The more colourful the potato is, the greater the amount of antioxidants.

But there's one caution. A 130 calorie potato can quickly become a 400 one with two tablespoons of butter or three of sour cream. Five ounces of fast-food French fries have 435 calories and potato chips about 700 calories.

So, hell will freeze over before I stop eating Prince Edward Island or Idaho potatoes. I can't imagine living in a world without mashed potatoes.

So if I've ever badly sinned I now repent all. But please spare Prince Edward Island and Idaho from a potato famine. Amen.

 

See the web site www.docgiff.com

For comments info@docgiff.com

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 17, 2011 A25

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Gary Lawless & Ed Tait try not to bleeping cry over the woesome Jets

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • June 24, 2012 - 120624  -  Amusement riders on the last day of The Ex Sunday June 24, 2012.    John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press
  • KEN GIGLIOTTI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS / Jan 10  2011 ‚Äì WEB STDUP ‚Äì Frosty morning at -15 degrees C , in pic frost covers the the Nellie McClung statue  on the MB Legislature grounds at 7am

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Should Premier Greg Selinger resign?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google