The Great Spud Shuffle: U.S. Retains Potato as a Vegetable

May 23, 2024 0

The humble potato has avoided a major identity crisis! The U.S. Dietary Advisory Committee (DAC) recently confirmed that potatoes will remain classified as a vegetable, settling a debate that had simmered within the committee during its work on the 2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

In 2023, as the DAC embarked on revisions to the dietary guidelines, the possibility of reclassifying potatoes as a grain alongside rice and corn was raised. This consideration stemmed from the potato’s starch content, a characteristic it shares with grains. However, this reclassification sparked concerns

Opponents of the reclassification, including US Senator Susan Collins, highlighted the potato’s well-rounded nutrient profile. Unlike many grains, potatoes boast a good amount of vitamins C and B6, alongside potassium and protein – nutrients more commonly associated with vegetables like kale, spinach, and broccoli. Studies like one published in the “NIH National Library of Medicine” have shown that potatoes can be a valuable source of these essential vitamins and minerals, especially when consumed with the skin.

Senator Collins emphasized the potential public health implications of the shift. “Reclassifying potatoes as grains,” she stated, “would have sent a false message… that potatoes are not healthy.” This concern aligns with research from Harvard University which suggests that consumers tend to make dietary choices based on food category labels. A shift to the “grains” category could have discouraged people from consuming potatoes, a potentially negative outcome considering their affordability, long shelf life, and versatility in recipes.

The decision to retain the potato’s vegetable status has been welcomed by the potato industry. Bob Mattive, president of the National Potato Council, called it a “positive development,” underscoring the importance of recognizing the potato’s unique nutritional profile within the vegetable category.

This episode highlights the ongoing discussions surrounding food categorization and its impact on dietary choices. As we strive for clearer and more informative dietary guidelines, the importance of considering a food’s complete nutritional profile alongside its individual components becomes even more evident.

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