Put down the potatoes.
A new study has found that they are one of the most fattening vegetables around.
Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health analysed the dietary information of more than 130,000 American men and women and found that potatoes, peas, and sweetcorn were all linked to weight gain.
Every four years, for 24 years, the participants answered questions related to how often they ate 131 different foods. They were also weighed regularly, asked about their smoking, exercise and TV watching habits, and other aspects of their lifestyle.
Unsurprisingly, they found that a high intake of fruit and vegetables led to weight loss over the 24 year period, but the researchers also found that eating fruit appears to be twice as effective as eating vegetables. Every extra portion of fruit eaten a day led to almost half a pound being shed over the four year period.
A handful of blueberries a day was linked to nearly a pound and a half of weight loss, and prunes, apples, pears and strawberries were also found to contribute to weight loss.
The researchers explained that this could be due to people substituting them for typically fattening desserts, or the fruits themselves being rich in polyphenols – a compound credited with altering the metabolism.
Cauliflower, broccoli and Brussel sprouts were named as the vegetables that contributed to weight loss.
Because of their high starch and low water content, potatoes are higher in calories than most vegetables, and were therefore linked to weight gain amongst participants. Researcher Monica Bertoia recommended brown rice and wholemeal bread as an alternative to potatoes.
She added: “Although the magnitude of weight change associated with each increased daily serving was modest, combining an increase of one to two servings of vegetables and one to two servings of fruits daily would be associated with substantial weight change.”
Rebecca Lawton, of the British Diabetic Association, said we shouldn’t be too quick to remove potatoes from our diets. Speaking to the Daily Mail she said: “There are lots of good things about potatoes.
“They are high in vitamin C and potassium and they are high in fibre and quite filling.”
The BDA advises that our combined intake of potatoes, bread, rice, and pasta be limited to a fist-sized portion per meal.