After years of having 'carbs are bad' drummed into your brain, it can be difficult to approach pasta and potatoes with anything less than sheer fear for your waistline.
Now, however, a study has found that potatoes may be key to aiding weight loss. And scientists believe that this could be down to the root vegetable's high concentration of polyphenols.
Researchers from McGill University in Canada fed mice an obesity-inducing diet for 10 weeks. Mice that started out weighing on average 25 grams put on about 16 grams.
Meanwhile, mice that consumed the same diet but with a potato extract gained much less weight: only 7 more grams.
They believe that this is because potatoes have a high concentration of polyphenols, a beneficial chemical component which is also found in blueberries.
It shows that a simple potato extract may limit weight gain from a diet that is high in fat and refined carbohydrates.
“We were astonished by the results,” said Prof. Luis Agellon, one of the study’s authors. “We thought this can’t be right – in fact, we ran the experiment again using a different batch of extract prepared from potatoes grown in another season, just to be certain.”
“The daily dose of extract comes from 30 potatoes, but of course we don’t advise anyone to eat 30 potatoes a day, as that would be an enormous number of calories,” says Stan Kubow, leading author of the study and Associate Professor in the School of Dietetics and Human Nutrition.
Instead, researchers believe that making the extract available as a dietary supplement or a cooking ingredient would be beneficial.
“Potatoes have the advantage of being cheap to produce, and they’re already part of the basic diet in many countries,” Kubow says.
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Although humans and mice metabolise foods in similar ways, clinical trials are now necessary to validate beneficial effects in humans. The optimal dose for men and women also needs to be determined, since metabolisms differ.
We'd like to test this theory ASAP - cottage pie for tea, anyone?
The study was funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Canada Foundation for Innovation.
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