Harvard researchers report that greater consumption of potatoes can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, but replacing potatoes with whole grains can lower the risk.
The study, published in Diabetes Care, was conducted by a research team led by Qi Su, MD, ScD, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Sun and colleagues analysed data from male and female health professionals in the United States who didn’t have diabetes, cancer or cardiovascular disease.
70,773 women from the Nurses’ Health Study (1984-2010), 87,739 women from the Nurses’ Health Study II (1991-2011) and 40,669 men from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (1986-2010) were evaluated to assess how potato consumption affected the risk of type 2 diabetes.
15,362 cases of type 2 diabetes were identified during 3,988,007 person-years of follow-up. Higher consumption of total potatoes (including boiled, mashed baked potatoes and french fries) was significantly associated with a heightened risk of type 2 diabetes.
These findings existed even after adjustment for confounding factors such as diet, demographic, lifestyle and BMI.
Eating seven servings of potatoes per week led to the highest risk of type 2 diabetes, while each additional three servings per week also increased the risk. However, replacing three or more servings per week with the same amount of whole grains reduced the risk of type 2 diabetes.
As part of the Nurses’ Health Study, whole grains included dark bread, whole-grain breakfast cereal, popcorn, cooked oatmeal, wheat germ, brown rice, bra, and other grains (such as bulgar, kasha, and couscous).
Limiting potato intake is also useful if you have type 2 diabetes, as potatoes contain a significant amount of carbohydrate. A low-carb diet can have benefits such as improved blood glucose control and weight loss for people with type 2 diabetes.
For more information, sign up to the Low-Carb Program: a free online education program that was developed with the help of 20,000 type 2 diabetes patients and can help reduce dependency on medication.

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