New Analysis on Children and Greens Reveals the Energy of the Potato

Possibly it’s their starring function in greasy French fries or buttery mash that has given potatoes a nasty rep as a not-so-nutritious vegetable. However recently, researchers have regarded just a little extra intently at the advantages of the common-or-garden spud. And guess what? It’s the butter and milk in these mashed potatoes—not the tubers themselves—which are liable for elevated diabetes threat. 

In reality, an increasing number of research are pointing to the dietary alternatives potatoes present in constructing a satiating, nutritious plant-based food plan. And, it seems, the potato can achieve this far more.

Adobe Inventory

Within the realm of kid vitamin, a brand new examine discovered that potatoes can help in fixing an age-old dilemma: easy methods to get youngsters to eat extra greens.

Revealed within the scientific journal Vitamins by the Alliance for Potato Analysis and Training, this analysis, led by Gene Ahlborn, PhD, from Brigham Younger College, delves into the potential of potatoes to spice up vegetable consumption amongst school-aged kids. 

“Getting youngsters to eat their greens is all the time a problem,” Ahlborn stated in a press release. “Potatoes not solely add vitamins, like potassium, on to the plate, however they might additionally assist encourage youngsters to discover different veggies that they’re served alongside and thereby assist them get nearer to their general vitamin wants.”

Potatoes: a gateway vegetable?

The Dietary Pointers for People recommend a each day consumption of two-and-a-half to 3 cups of greens for youngsters between the ages of three and 18 years, but the common consumption is alarmingly low at roughly one cup. Addressing this hole, Ahlborn’s examine sought to grasp the affect of college meals on kids’s vegetable consumption. 


The examine’s methodology was meticulously crafted to simulate a college cafeteria setting. Youngsters have been supplied with a base meal of two % milk, hen nuggets, ketchup, and applesauce, together with an experimental part that includes blended peas and carrots (MPACs) in varied shows.

The experimental meal part had 5 variations: MPACs and a whole-wheat bread roll served individually (a management situation);  MPACs and potato-shaped faces served in separate bowls; MPACs and seasoned diced potatoes served in separate bowls; MPACs and seasoned diced potatoes served in the identical bowl; and MPACs and potato-shaped faces served in the identical bowl.

The outcomes confirmed that kids ate extra whole greens when peas and carrots have been served with potato-shaped smiley faces, which illustrates how the presentation and familiarity of meals can influence kids’s consuming habits. 

“Presentation does matter when providing meals to kids; if one thing seems to be unfamiliar or odd, kids are much less more likely to attempt it,” Stephanie McBurnett, RDN, a vitamin educator for the Physicians Committee for Accountable Drugs, tells VegNews. 

“The potato-shaped smiley faces, or tater tots, might provide some familiarity in style with a pleasant look,” she says, noting that based on the American Academy of Pediatrics, kids would possibly must be uncovered to new meals as much as 15 instances or extra earlier than they turn into receptive to attempting them.

Extra potato advantages for youths

Potatoes, beloved at any age, are a flexible base able to delivering a satisfying mixture of starch and salt. However can they actually be an excellent starter veggie for youths?

“Potatoes are starchy greens that include wholesome advanced carbohydrates, protein, fiber, nutritional vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants,” McBurnett says. Nevertheless, she cautions towards sure cooking strategies. 

“The dietary advantages will likely be diminished when potatoes are fried in oil, lowering the fiber, nutritional vitamins, and minerals whereas growing fats and sodium content material,” she says. 


McBurnett additionally emphasizes the significance of a various plant-based food plan. “Though potatoes are wholesome and a vegetable, that doesn’t imply they need to change different tremendously diverse and nutritious greens akin to cruciferous, darkish inexperienced leafy, orange/pink, and non-starchy greens.”

Some sensible methods to incorporate potatoes at school meals that encourage a balanced food plan? “Complete potatoes, akin to boiled, baked, and roasted, could be a wholesome addition to high school meals,” McBurnett says, recommending mixtures akin to mashed potatoes with roasted carrots, twice-baked potatoes with broccoli, and hearty potato soup with corn. 

These pairings not solely improve the dietary worth of meals but in addition improve the enchantment of different greens.

Serving greens in school

The long-term influence of the findings of this examine may assist form menus at faculties—that are more and more trying to serve extra sustainable, nutritious meals whereas preserving youngsters completely happy. 

McBurnett believes that introducing potatoes in a child-friendly method can result in constructive adjustments in kids’s consuming habits over time. 


“One avenue to efficiently introduce unfamiliar meals to kids is to pair them with meals they already know and settle for,” McBurnett explains. “So long as the potatoes don’t overshadow or overpower the opposite greens, that is an applicable technique to introduce meals into kids’s diets as they age.”

“Providing just a few smiley tots on prime of different greens can improve the consumption of accompanying greens,” she says. 

Nevertheless, the nutritionist warns towards over-serving potatoes, which may result in kids filling up on them earlier than reaching for different greens.

Faculties face vital challenges in implementing these findings, primarily on account of finances constraints and the necessity for meal acceptance amongst kids. 

Whereas acknowledging the numerous challenges, akin to finances constraints, faculties face, McBurnett sees a possibility for them to implement methods that may encourage kids to attempt to take pleasure in new and wholesome greens, thus enhancing the general dietary high quality of college meals.

“Faculties maintain the important accountability of serving nutritious meals to youngsters despite the fact that these meals will not be the norm of their dwelling lives,” McBurnett states.

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