potatoes

  1. Potatoes could send your BP through the roof

    The spud is a BP-spiking dud

    Ah, the potato. It's somehow found its way into nearly every meal -- whether it's in the form of hash browns, French fries, or baked, scalloped, or mashed -- making it one of the most consumed produce items here in the U.S.

    But potatoes have something of an identity crisis. They're considered a vegetable, but they're made up almost entirely of starch. And that makes them act less like a veggie and more like a bowl of pasta.

    So despite their healthy "vegetable" distinction, don't be fooled by the tuber. It's a wolf in sheep's clothing... and the latest research shows how it can derail your otherwise healthy diet.

    A new study published in The BMJ confirms that whether you boil, bake, mash or fry your spuds, eating these so-called veggies increases your risk for developing high blood pressure.

    As I've previously shared with you, potatoes can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes and expand your waistline. And now, this new study says that potatoes can also send your BP through the roof.

    Researchers from Harvard Med School and Brigham and Women's Hospital used three large U.S. cohort studies to follow 187,000 men and women for more than 20 years.

    They found that folks who consumed four or more servings of potatoes a week over a prolonged period of time -- especially women -- had a significantly increased risk for high BP when compared to those who ate less than one serving a month.

    French fries were the worst offenders, increasing the risk by 17 percent... but even potatoes cooked in a "healthy" manner (like baked or boiled) increased the risk for high BP by 11 percent.

    The researchers suggest that the high glycemic load in potatoes can contribute to high BP not only because of weight gain, but also an increase in oxidative stress and inflammation. And it may be enough to negate the potential health benefits of the potassium content in potatoes.

    According to the study, if you replace just one of your servings of potatoes for the week with a non-starchy vegetable like broccoli, you're more likely to keep your BP in check.

    But if you ask me, you're better off following the Paleo diet and skipping starches altogether. And, vegetable or not, white potatoes are NOT considered Paleo.

    You can substitute your mashed potatoes with mashed cauliflower, a cruciferous cousin of broccoli that's packed with cancer-fighting sulforaphane and none of the starch found in potatoes. A cup of cauliflower has fewer carbs and about a tenth of the calories of a potato.

    If you REALLY need your tater fix, try swapping out your white potatoes for their distant cousin, Paleo-friendly sweet potatoes. The tasty sweet potato is filled with potassium like the white potato... but it also has heart-healthy magnesium... and it's been shown to actually LOWER blood pressure.

  2. Forget chemo -- try broccoli instead

    The best thing I can say about many vegetables... like the twin starch bombs potatoes and corn... is that they make for excellent compost material.

    But I do make exceptions -- and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, and cauliflower are more than just a garnish for my steak. They taste great, and they've proven time and again they can help beat cancer.

    And if you're a lady listen up -- because women who eat the most of these veggies are 62 percent less likely to die of breast cancer and 35 percent less likely to have a recurrence of the disease than women who eat the least, according to a new study out of China.

    Those veggies even helped slash the risk of death from "all" causes, but I'm always a little suspicious of numbers like that. I don't think there's a vegetable on the planet that can prevent deaths from car accidents, injuries, or crime.

    But for my money, fighting cancer is a good enough trick on its own -- and there's a reason cruciferous vegetables have shown they can stop the disease in its tracks (and not just breast cancer).

    They contain a substance called sulforaphane, which stimulates certain phase II enzymes that in turn can stop tumors from growing.

    The only downside here is that many people can't stand broccoli. Years of being forced to eat it as a child will do that to you -- and if the very idea of Brussels sprouts makes you gag, feel free to dunk them in some farm-fresh butter.

    Extra butter -- real, fresh butter -- makes everything taste better... and despite what you've heard it's good for you, too. In fact, the CHOLESTEROL in butter is a powerful cancer-fighter of its own.

    Stay tuned later this week for more on that.

  3. The great potato war of 2011

    It's worse than a food fight in a junior high cafeteria: Politicians and bureaucrats are arguing over how many potatoes children should eat.
  4. 20 potatoes a day

    Chris Voigt, executive director of the Washington State Potato Commission, is spiking his blood sugar with 20 potatoes a day. No butter, no milk, no sour cream and chives -- just those ugly white carbs for every meal and snack.

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