Food & Beverage Perspectives
women need to eat more vegetables_potatoes

Women Need to Eat More Vegetables, White Potatoes (French Fries)

<p>Vegetable consumption is very low among women of childbearing age, and the nutrient-rich white potato is an important vegetable to this population&#8217;s diet, particularly among subgroups with the lowest intake.</p>

According to a new study, women need to eat more starchy vegetables, specifically white potatoes. The study, presented on Monday, March 30, 2015 at Experimental Biology 2015 confirmed vegetable consumption is very low among women of childbearing age, and the nutrient-rich white potato is an important vegetable to this population’s diet, particularly among subgroups with the lowest intake.

The results are consistent with the Institute of Medicine findings that mean total vegetable consumption of women ages 19 to 50 years is extremely low—with intakes at just 50 percent of the 2.5 cup equivalents per day recommended for most women of childbearing age by the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA), which recommends about 5 cups of starchy vegetables per week, or approximately three-fourths cup per day, as part of a healthful diet.

“A nutritious diet and healthy lifestyle are crucial before, during and after pregnancy to optimize the health for both mother and child," stated Maureen Storey, Ph.D., co-author of the study and president and CEO of the Alliance for Potato Research and Education (APRE). “The results of APRE’s study show the intake of key nutrients from vegetables and white potatoes by women of childbearing age in general, and by non-Hispanic black women in particular, are well below adequate levels for the nutrition they need."

APRE researchers examined total vegetable and white potato consumption of women of childbearing age using the most recent data available from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and the Food Pyramid Equivalents Database 2009-2010 and 2011-2012. The study authors found, on average, women of childbearing age consumed 1.36 cup equivalents of total vegetables. Depending on physical activity levels, the 2010 DGA recommend 2.5 to 3 cups of vegetables a day for women of childbearing age needing 1,800 to 2,400 calories per day; this recommendation includes 5 to 6 cups of starchy vegetables a week.

Non-Hispanic white women, Hispanic women and women of other races consumed an average of 1.39, 1.43 and 1.46 cup equivalents of vegetables, respectively. On average, non-Hispanic blacks consumed 1.11 cup equivalents of vegetables—significantly fewer than women of all other races. Women of childbearing age consumed about 0.31 cup equivalents of white potatoes. According to the data, white potato consumption is low for women of childbearing age —about 2 cups a week, on average, or about 0.3 cups equivalents per day, Storey said. Contrary to media reports, French fried potatoes are consumed in moderation—average consumption is about one-half cup a week—and can easily be incorporated into a healthy, well-balanced, nutritious diet.

Storey noted the mean intakes of key nutrients, including potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin D, iron and folates are lower than current recommendations for women 19 to 50 years old. Average intakes of potassium and dietary fiber are about half of the recommended intakes, while mean vitamin D intake is less than 30 percent of the recommendation.

The new study also showed non-Hispanic black women of childbearing age have significantly lower intake of key nutrients of concern such as potassium, dietary fiber, calcium and vitamin D. Lower consumption of potassium is especially concerning for non-Hispanic blacks because this population is already at greater risk for high blood pressure and stroke.

Affordable white potatoes are an important vegetable source of essential nutrients, such as potassium and dietary fiber. A small Russet baked potato with skin provides about 760 mg of potassium and 3.2 g of dietary fiber; even without the skin, the flesh of the white potato provides about 540 mg of potassium and 2 g of dietary fiber. A small serving of French fried potatoes provides 411 mg of potassium and 2.7 g fiber.

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