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Good health news for spud lovers

Worried about diabetes? Want to lose some weight? Eat a potato, advises food expert Phil Lempert.  New studies show new health benefits for this staple.
/ Source: TODAY contributor

Good news for potato lovers.

Based on two new unrelated studies it appears that potatoes can help reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes; and may even help with weight loss (oh, how we laugh in glory at those low-carb dieters!).

A fresh potato, with skin, contains 45% of the recommended daily value (DV) of vitamin C, 18% DV of potassium, almost no sodium, no fat, and no cholesterol.

But it seems that the millions who followed the low-carb, no-carb fad diets forgot, or at least temporarily dismissed, the nutritional values of the potato!

We all know that diets characterized by meats and fatty foods are associated with a higher risk for diabetes. But now, researchers at the University of Melbourne and the Cancer Council Victoria in Australia have conducted a study which suggests that a diet of salad and cooked vegetables, including non-fried potatoes, may be linked to a decreased risk of diabetes.

Most interesting? The decreased diabetes risk disappeared when potatoes were excluded from the vegetables group.

The study conducted by the Jean Mayer U.S. Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging has found evidence that the glycemic load, or carbohydrate content, of a diet has less effect than caloric intake, when it comes to weight loss.

For one year, one group of men and women were given a low glycemic load, while a second group of men and women were given a high glycemic load. Both groups were restricting their calories by 30%, and both groups had lost an average of 8% of their original weight. In addition, the group with a lower glycemic load had a higher tendency to regain body fat and weight.

So for all of you who have been warding off all carbs for the past three years – you should probably stay away from those potato chips, but it's time to enjoy that baked potato at this year's Memorial Day barbeque.

At only 110 calories per 3.5 ounce serving, it's a nutritional bargain when you leave off the butter (and add salsa instead!).

For more healthy eating tips visit Phil’s website

Phil Lempert is food editor of the TODAY show. He welcomes questions and comments, which can be sent to or by using the mail box below. For more about the latest trends on the supermarket shelves, visit Phil’s Web site at