According a recently concluded study completed at McGill University, an extract from Irish potatoes can help to fight obesity and control weight. Even the researchers were surprised with the outcome of the study which was repeated with a different source of potatoes.
Professor Luis Agellon, one of the authors of the study, states that the weight loss benefit of the extract is due to the higher concentration of naturally occurring poly phenols, which are also found in vegetables and fruit. Some fruits can contain as much as 300 mg of poly phenols in each 100 gm of fruit, and the compounds are also found in beverages such as tea, wine and coffee. Plant poly phenols are also recognized as antioxidants that can offer protection against some forms of cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, and cardiovascular diseases.
The study conducted over a 10-week period indicated that mice would average a weight-gain of over 60 percent when fed a diet that was designed to induce obesity. However, other mice that were fed the same diet while also being fed with the extract, gained only 18 percent more body-weight. The startling conclusion that potatoes can help with loss, may be seen to be a contradiction of earlier published reports that indicate that potatoes may contribute to the incidence of diabetes and weight-gain because of the high carbohydrate and hypoglycemic content.
Stan Kubow, the main author of the study, advises that caution should be exercised with the consumption of potatoes. The experiments were conducted with an extract and a dosage that was equivalent to one human consuming more than 30 potatoes each day. Consuming this extraordinarily high amount can be dangerous, because it also introduces an extraordinarily high amount of calories. He also acknowledges that there is a difference in the way that mice and humans metabolize different foods, and more work is needed.
Kubow, who is an expert on poly phenols, at the School of Dietetics and Human Nutrition, worked in collaboration with an expert on potatoes, Dr. Danielle Donnelly, who is also an Associate Professor in the Department of Plant Science at McGill.
Further investigations will include clinical trials that will involve humans, while trying to obtain a patent on the potato extract. Partners are also being sought from the food industry, with the hope that the extract can be used as a dietary supplement or as a cooking additive.
The promise that potatoes may help to lose weight may be encouraging, as the incidences of obesity and diabetes is considered as approaching epidemic proportions, with more than 30 percent of the global population being affected in some way. The latest estimates from the World Health Organization indicate that almost 3 million people die annually from overweight or obese. The conditions are also becoming prevalent in lower-incomes countries, where it was once associated with countries of higher incomes. Potatoes are readily available around the year and can be produced relatively inexpensively with some additional health benefits, such as helping with the conversion of glucose into energy. However, some care should be exercised with consumption.
By Dale Davidson