March 2, 2024

Medical Trend

Medical News and Medical Resources

Debate Erupts on Whether Potatoes are Vegetables or “Starchy Grains”

Debate Erupts in the United States Dietary Committee on Whether Potatoes are Vegetables or “Starchy Grains”



Debate Erupts in the United States Dietary Committee on Whether Potatoes are Vegetables or “Starchy Grains”

Every five years, the U.S. Department of Health updates its dietary guidelines based on the latest nutritional science, impacting federal nutrition programs and various government health initiatives. An article in The Wall Street Journal is sure to pique your interest.

While botanists classify potatoes as vegetables, the question arises: How do Americans perceive them? This query has been sparked by the U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.

Debate Erupts in the United States Dietary Committee on Whether Potatoes are Vegetables or "Starchy Grains"

Sweet potatoes come in various colors, leading to their classification as “starchy vegetables.” However, as the committee weighs the updates for the 2025 national dietary guidelines, there’s a possibility that potatoes may be excluded from the vegetable category and grouped with rice, other grains, and carbohydrates in a broader category.

Scientific debates are not always easy to grasp, but for Kam Quarles, the CEO of the National Potato Council, it’s an idea that falls short. The dietary guidelines influence nutritional recommendations for Americans and determine the foods offered in school cafeterias. Quarles believes that potatoes should be seen as the “gateway vegetable” in dishes: “If there are potatoes in a meal, children are more willing to eat other vegetables.”

Contrastingly, the UK’s National Health Service does not include potatoes in the recommended daily intake of five portions of fruits and vegetables.

Nutrition researchers point out that potatoes contain beneficial nutrients such as potassium and vitamin C, but their health benefits decrease when fried. The U.S. Department of Agriculture found that nearly half of the potato products consumed in the U.S. are frozen, mainly in the form of French fries.

The U.S. guidelines aim to provide nutritional advice, categorizing foods into five groups: vegetables, grains, fruits, dairy, and protein. However, these five groups may not fully reflect the dietary habits of all Americans. The committee acknowledges that it is focusing on the grain group and whether certain cultural or health preference groups, such as those following a gluten-free diet, have different dietary patterns. The group aims to ensure that everyone receives sufficient nutrition, whether they consume potatoes, bread, or legumes.

The potato industry is concerned that any reclassification could mean potatoes are labeled as something other than vegetables, simply because some people choose fries over rice.

The grain camp is attempting to resist the potential potato invasion. The Grain Chain, a grain industry alliance, has expressed concern to the advisory committee, fearing that if Americans replace some grains with starchy vegetables or other foods based on the new guidelines, it “may further exacerbate nutrient deficiencies.”

As a comparison, the article notes that according to the U.S. dietary guidelines, “corn on the cob is considered a starchy vegetable, while cornmeal is classified as a grain,” despite both originating from the same crop.

Over the years, the iconic “meat and potatoes” viewpoint in American dinners has faced criticism. Efforts to restrict sweet potatoes from government programs have been thwarted by the U.S. Congress.

Debate Erupts in the United States Dietary Committee on Whether Potatoes are Vegetables or “Starchy Grains”

(source:internet, reference only)


Disclaimer of medicaltrend.org


Important Note: The information provided is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice.