Potassium is considered a shortfall nutrient of public health concern because 97% of Americans do not have an adequate intake of potassium. Maureen Storey, PhD, co-author of the study and president and CEO of the Alliance for Potato Research and Education (APRE) noted, "Very few Americans get enough potassium, which is a key nutrient that helps control blood pressure. Our study shows that the white potato is a particularly nutrient-rich vegetable that significantly increases potassium intake among adults, teens and children."
The 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee concluded there is considerable evidence demonstrating that higher intake of potassium is associated with lower blood pressure in adults. Diets containing foods that are good sources of potassium and low in sodium may reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke. Potassium-rich white potatoes, with or without the skin, are naturally free of fat, saturated fat and cholesterol and have little sodium. For example, a small (138 g) skin-on, plain baked potato provides 738 mg potassium and only 128 calories. A large banana (136 g) provides about the same number of calories, but far less potassium (487 mg). Calorie for calorie, the white potato delivers more potassium than bananas.
Even without its skin, the flesh of the white potato is a potassium powerhouse. Just one cup (122 g) of baked potato without the skin provides 477 mg potassium. Storey noted, "The nutrient 'beauty' of the white potato is not just skin deep. The flesh alone is also a significant source of key vitamins and minerals, such as potassium."
Using the most recent data available from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2009-2010, APRE researchers analyzed the nutrient intakes of children and adults ages 2-4, 5-8, 9-13, 14-18, 19-30, 31-50, 51-70, and 71+ years old. The study authors found that intakes of potassium, dietary fiber, calcium and vitamin D among these groups were all below the recommended daily allowance (RDA) or adequate intake (AI) levels recommended by the Institute of Medicine. These results, said Storey, suggest that children, adolescents and adults do not meet dietary recommendations for key nutrients and that consumption of white potatoes increases intake of potassium.
The APRE data analysis, "White Potato Consumption is Positively Associated with Potassium Intake," co-authored by Storey and Patricia Anderson, MPP, an independent consultant, will be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal. A paper on vegetable and potato consumption by the same authors is slated to be published in a May 2013 supplement to the peer-reviewed journal, Advances in Nutrition