Attack of the Killer Potatoes

What you didn't know about potatoes and your heart

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Overweight and obesity are major risk factors for heart diseases. That’s why TBE was particularly interested in a study published in the June 23, 2011 New England Journal of Medicine, that linked particular behaviors and food choices to weight loss and weight gain.  This study, which followed more than 120,000 people for many years, isolated the single dietary factor which, more than any other is associated with weight gain.  And that factor is – potato chips.  The more potato chips you eat, the more and faster you gain weight.  Right after potato chips, came potatoes in all forms, sugared drinks, red meat, and processed meat.  The only lifestyle factor that was more strongly associated with weight loss or gain was physical exercise.

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Of course, readers of the Cleveland Clinic Healthy Heart Lifestyle Guide and Cookbook would have known this all along.  Here’s what page 64-65 have to say about chips and crackers:

“Just a small bag of potato chips can contain more than 3 grams of trans fat per serving.  That ‘buttery’ taste of your favorite cracker?  Trans fat.  A number of manufacturers have switched to liquid vegetable oils for these products, but that still doesn’t mean you can eat unlimited quantities of these calorie-dense foods.  Most of them are laden with sodium, few contain whole grains, and they offer zilch in terms of heart-protective nutrients.  Your best choice is whole grain crackers made with no fat or liquid vegetable oils.  If you really must have chips, choose tortilla chips or potato chips baked in non-hydrogenated oils, and eat them sparingly.”

The study also found that higher intake of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains was associated with weight loss.  The Cleveland Clinic Healthy Heart Lifestyle Guide and Cookbook cites studies showing that men and women who consume the most fruits and vegetables had the lowest chance of developing cardiovascular disease, a lower risk of dying of cardiovascular disease, reduced risk of stroke, lower blood pressure, and lower cholesterol.

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