Because it is an experimental investigation, Veronese and his co-authors note it cannot be said that eating fried potatoes directly leads to a premature death — it would involve further investigation to make such a solid conclusion.
“Even if it is an experimental investigation, we conclude that the cooking oil, rich in trans-fat, is an essential component in explaining mortality in those ingesting more potatoes,” suggested Veronese.
Trans fat has been determined to increase the “bad,” or LDL, cholesterol in the blood, which can lead to cardiovascular disease.
National Potato Council CEO John Keeling said the “study isn’t relevant to the general population” since the data was gathered for an osteoarthritis study and consists of only subjects with arthritis.
“Potatoes are naturally a truly healthy vegetable,” said Keeling in an email. He suggested a medium-sized potato is 110 calories, has no fat, no sodium, no cholesterol, and yields approximately a third of the daily vitamin C requirement with more potassium than a banana.
“How the potato is processed will impact the calorie, fat and sodium content,” said Keeling, however, the main nutrients remain “no matter how it is prepared.”
Based on the data in the research, Keeling said, “it is very much a stretch to brand fried potatoes, or any other form of potato, as unhealthy.”
Susanna Larsson, an associate professor at the Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, indicated that the new research provides “no evidence” that potato consumption in and of itself may heighten the risk of a premature death. Larsson was not involved in the new research.
Instead, it may be the “other influences” recommended by Veronese himself. “Fried potato consumption may be a signal of a less healthy (Western) dietary pattern which is correlated with increased mortality,” said Larsson, who also managed a study of potato consumption.
Her research did not identify an increased risk of cardiovascular disease related to eating potatoes.
The possible threat when eating fried starchy foods, such as French fries, is acrylamide, said Stephanie Schiff, a certified dietitian at Northwell Health’s Huntington Hospital in Huntington, New York. Schiff was not involved in the study.