For decades, potatoes have been branded unhealthy and we have been advised to avoid consuming too many of them.
But now, researchers say that consuming the popular tuber – used to make chips and crisps – is actually good for you.
In fact, they bizarrely claim that you could eat potatoes, and nothing else, for the rest of your life and ‘remain pretty healthy’.
In a medical U-turn, scientists who reviewed a host of evidence are pushing for potatoes to be reassessed for their ‘clear’ health benefits.
They have uncovered evidence in a 60-page report that the humble crop could slash the risk of having a heart attack and may even protect against dementia.
Professor Derek Stewart, from the James Hutton Institute in Scotland, said: ‘The studies we looked at found a whole raft of different benefits.
‘If you have to live the rest of your life on just one thing, you could do it on potatoes and remain pretty healthy. There are not many crops you can say that about.
Potatoes are a great source of loads of vitamins and macro and micro minerals, which many people spend money buying supplements for.
‘There are also non-nutrients like carotenoids and polyphenols [powerful compounds]. They’re pretty good for dietary fibre too.’
Professor Stewart continued: ‘Epidemiology studies have been carried out on huge populations, looking at potatoes and cardiovascular disease.
And what came up there was replacing meat in the diet with vegetables and potatoes is linked with a lower risk of heart attack.
‘Other research has found a strong association with enhanced cognitive function in the elderly if they’re eating potatoes.’
The findings, compiled in a 60-page report, state that potatoes are a significant source of vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin B9.
Writing in the report, they said together ‘these are responsible’ for stopping the downward spiral of ‘a plethora of degenerative diseases’.
Dr Mark Taylor was also involved in the report, titled ‘Potato – A basis for human nutrition and health benefits’.
Writing in the document, the authors said: ‘Potato should be reassessed as a source of nutrient and beneficial chemicals as well as a food
‘Compared with other sources, such as fruit, meat and leafy vegetables, potatoes are often considered as lesser sources of vitamins and minerals. This is not correct.’
‘It is clear from the information outlined above that potato is an important part of the diet for good nutritional health and should be considered as a source of multiple nutritional benefits.’
The report, which hasn’t been published in a scientific journal, also showed that the skins of potatoes, particularly Jersey Royals, are especially nutritious.
Minerals in potatoes – which can be mashed, fried or baked – can ‘survive processing and cooking methods’.
But the researchers warned humans should avoid eating too many french fries due to their significant links to obesity because of how they are cooked.
However, they added that potato has a very satiety index compared to foods with an equivalent carbohydrate content.
A lower risk of heart attacks was noted for adults who replaced meat in their diet with vegetables or potatoes.
And preliminary trials show potatoes can ‘enhance cognitive function’, the report adds. A decline in cognitive function can lead to dementia.
They said this was important because the number of dementia victims are expected to rocket in the coming years.
The report was comissioned by the Agricultural and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) – an organisation funded by farmers and growers.