If there were ever a time to become a science denier it is clearly now, thanks to a new study titled: Fried potato consumption is associated with elevated mortality: an 8-y longitudinal cohort study.
"Whyyyyy?" I lament, crying to the heavens.
I exaggerate, of course, but it is eye-opening for sure. The team of researchers from Italy and the United Kingdom decided to assess the association between potato consumption and mortality in a group of North Americans. (Here Pandora, take this jar…)
They used the data from an 8-year study – the Osteoarthritis Initiative cohort study – analysing the numbers for 4440 participants aged 45 to 79 years old at the start of the study.
After adjusting for 14 potential baseline confounders, they found that participants with the highest consumption of potatoes did not show an increased risk of overall mortality. So, yay! But alas, those who consumed fried potatoes two to three times per week were at an increased risk of mortality, in fact, the risk was doubled; fried potatoes include French fries, tater tots, hash brown patties, and all of their delicious crispy golden friends.
One thing to keep in mind here, however, is that it was an observational study, just linking fried potato consumption with mortality without taking into consideration other factors that could be involved – obesity, a sedentary lifestyle and use of high quantities of salt might also play a role in the early death, notes Dr. Nicola Veronese, lead author of the study and a scientist at the National Research Council in Padova, Italy. Not to mention the fact that fries often come along with a cheeseburger and a soda. But nonetheless …
"Even if it is an observational study, we believe that the cooking oil, rich in trans-fat, is an important factor in explaining mortality in those eating more potatoes," Veronese adds. Trans fat has been shown to raise "bad" (LDL) cholesterol in the blood, which can lead to heart disease.
Thankfully, the beautiful and nutritious tuber in and of itself is not to blame – and there are still plenty of baked, mashed, roasted, steamed and even humble boiled potatoes waiting to be devoured, no risk of early death included.