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The White Potato—Where Is Its Rightful Place in Food Grouping Systems?

Marr, Elizabeth T. MS, RDN, FAND; King, Janet C. PhD; Weaver, Connie M. PhD

doi: 10.1097/NT.0000000000000062
Food History and Nutrition

Across many cultures in the United States, potatoes are an almost-universally popular vegetable and are good sources of several shortfall nutrients, such as potassium, magnesium, fiber, and vitamin C. In current US dietary guidance and nutrition policy, white potatoes are, at best, taken for granted, or at worst, excluded. Potatoes may contribute to diet quality and are inexpensive. Just as with any other food, healthier ways to prepare and consume potatoes should be encouraged, especially given that some of the most popular forms contain added salt and fat. Potatoes appear to serve as a marker for other vegetable consumption and may be a gateway vegetable leading to increased consumption of other vegetables. Potatoes should not displace vegetables of any color any more than the reverse, as individual vegetables make differing contributions to healthful dietary patterns. This article examines white potatoes in US food grouping systems, as well as nutrition policy, and presents a rationale for repositioning potatoes within US dietary guidance frameworks (governmental and nongovernmental). From a public health perspective, overall low vegetable consumption can and should be addressed by promoting all vegetables.

Elizabeth T. Marr, MS, RDN, FAND, is a food and nutrition communications consultant at Liz Marr & Associates, LLC, Longmont, Colorado.

Janet C. King, PhD, is a senior vice president for research and executive director, Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute, and professor emeritus at the University of California at Berkeley and Davis.

Connie M. Weaver, PhD, is a distinguished professor and department head, Nutrition Science, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana.

The Purdue scientific roundtable “White Vegetables: A Forgotten Source of Nutrients,” held June 18 to 19, 2012, in Chicago, Illinois, was supported by an unrestricted grant from the Alliance for Potato Research and Education (APRE). APRE provided financial and in-kind support in the writing of this article.

Drs Weaver and King participated in the Purdue scientific roundtable, and Ms Marr assisted in the planning of this activity. Unrelated to this grant, Dr Weaver has received an APRE research grant. Ms Marr has consulted with APRE and currently consults with the Produce for Better Health Foundation “Fruits and Veggies – More Matters” campaign.

Correspondence: Connie M. Weaver, PhD, Department of Food Science and Nutrition, Purdue University, Stone Hall, Rm 210, 700 W State St, West Lafayette, IN 47907 (

© 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins