In a reversal, panel endorses white potatoes

Published Feb. 4, 2015

Eat up

In a reversal, panel endorses white potatoes

Ostracized by health officials for several years, the white potato is back in favor.

The prestigious Institute of Medicine said Tuesday that pregnant women and moms should be allowed to buy white potatoes with subsidies from the government's Women, Infants and Children program. The institute said people aren't getting enough starchy vegetables or potassium and fiber, nutrients that are plentiful in potatoes.

That's a reversal of a 2006 report that recommended against including white potatoes in the WIC program, saying people were eating too many of them. WIC gives needy pregnant women and mothers government-subsidized food vouchers to ensure good nutrition for their families.

What has changed since 2006? The government's dietary guidelines increased the recommendation for starchy vegetables to 3.5 cups per week for children and 5 cups for women. Now, the institute estimates that children are consuming 64 percent of what is recommended and women are consuming 56 percent.

"Intakes of all vegetable subgroups should be improved, including those of starchy vegetables," Tuesday's report says.

Allowing white potatoes into WIC doesn't mean french fries. WIC only allows the purchase of vegetables without added sugars, fats or oils. The guidelines vary by state, but the potatoes can be fresh, frozen or canned, but not have the added ingredients.

Associated Press