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Pregnancy and Potatoes: A Match Made in Heaven

Pregnant and craving potatoes? Well, eat up! A new study presented this week at the 2015 Experimental Biology meeting in Boston, MA indicates vegetable consumption – including starchy vegetables – falls far short of recommended levels among women of childbearing age. According to the study, women between the ages of 19-50 consume only half of the recommended servings of vegetables per day, and consequently, are missing out on the key nutrients vegetables provide, including potassium, fiber and folate.

“A nutritious diet and healthy lifestyle are crucial before, during and after pregnancy to optimize the health for both mother and child,” stated Maureen Storey, PhD, co-author of the study and president and CEO of the Alliance for Potato Research and Education (APRE). “The results of APRE’s study show that the intake of key nutrients from vegetables, including white potatoes, by women of childbearing age are well below adequate levels for the nutrition they need.”

APRE researchers examined total vegetable and white potato consumption among women of child baring age (19-50 years of age) using the most recent data available from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and the Food Pyramid Equivalents Database 2009-02010 and 2011-2012. The results indicated that, on average, women consumed just 1.36 cup equivalents per day of total vegetables. The current recommendation for vegetable intake among this group is 2.5-3 cup equivalents per day (depending on calorie needs). White potato consumption averaged about 2 cups per week; the recommendation for starchy vegetables is 5-6 cups per week. Contrary to popular opinion, French fried potatoes were consumed in moderation, averaging just one-half cup per week.

Not surprisingly, the low intakes of vegetables, including white potatoes, resulted in low intakes of key nutrients. For example, mean intakes of potassium and dietary fiber were approximately 50% of the recommended intake.

This research adds to the growing database of research that demonstrates potatoes can be part of a healthy diet. One medium-size (5.3 ounce) skin-on potato contains just 110 calories per serving, boasts more potassium (620mg) than a banana, provides almost half the daily value of vitamin C (45 percent), and contains no fat, sodium or cholesterol. Visit www.PotatoGoodness.com for a wealth of potato nutrition information and healthy recipes.

Spinach and Artichoke Heart Two Potato Casserole

This recipe from PotatoGoodness.com is an easy-to-prepare, delicious potato dish. By combining potatoes with spinach and artichoke hearts, each serving packs a powerful punch of the nutrition your body needs, with ample amounts of potassium, fiber and folate.

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour 35 minutes

1 lb. red potatoes
1 lb. yellow potatoes
1 1/4 cups vegetable broth or stock
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon garlic salt
4 oz. Neufchatel (1/3-less fat) cream cheese
4 oz. fat-free cream cheese or 1/2 cup shredded fat-free Cheddar cheese
1 (7.5-oz.) jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 (6-oz.) bag baby spinach, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup sliced green onions

Preheat oven to 425°F and coat a 9-inch square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Cut potatoes in half lengthwise. Place cut side down on a board and slice very thinly. Place in a large bowl and set aside. Heat broth, Parmesan, garlic salt, cheeses and artichoke hearts in a medium saucepan until cheeses are melted. Stir in spinach and cook until wilted. Stir mixture into potatoes with green onions, mixing well to coat potatoes as evenly as possible. Spread in prepared dish and bake for 30 minutes. Cover loosely with foil and reduce temperature to 375°F; cook for 1 hour more or until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork. Makes 8 servings.

Quick Tip: To shave an hour off the cook time, boil potatoes for 5 minutes or until tender, then drain well. Prepare as directed above then bake at 425°F for 30 minutes.

Nutritional analysis per serving:

Calories: 180, Fat: 5g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Trans Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 15mg, Sodium: 510mg, Potassium: 314mg, Carbohydrates: 25g, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 1g, Protein: 9g, Vitamin A: 25%, Vitamin C: 45%, Folate: 23%, Calcium: 15%, Iron: 10%


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