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White Vegetables: A Forgotten Source of Nutrients: Purdue Roundtable Executive Summary

Connie Weaver, PhD, RD, Elizabeth T. Marr, MS, RD


Purdue University convened a scientific roundtable, “White Vegetables: A Forgotten Source of Nutrients,” in Chicago, IL, June 18–19, 2012, to bring together experts to address the contributions of white vegetables, including potatoes, as sources of key nutrients and other microconstituents within a dietary pattern supporting health and wellness. This paper summarizes the meeting and supplement papers, including discussion among participants. The group of researchers identified areas of ambiguity regarding classification of vegetables for research and dietary guidance, future research needs, and the imperative to draw on that research to enhance evidence-based dietary guidance about white vegetables, including potatoes. U.S. dietary guidance encourages consumption of a variety of fruits and vegetables, including at least 1 serving of a dark green and 1 orange vegetable daily. However, no such recommendation exists for white vegetables, such as potatoes, cauliflowers, turnips, onions, parsnips, mushrooms, corn, and kohlrabi. Vegetable subgrouping approaches need to be considered in the context of nutrients of concern and low fruits and vegetable consumption. This Roundtable and supplement provide a substantial body of evidence to demonstrate how the inclusion of white vegetables, such as potatoes, can increase shortfall nutrients, notably fiber, potassium, and magnesium, as well as help increase overall vegetable consumption among children, teens, and adults in the United States. In so doing, these increases can help consumers to effectively and economically meet the recommended 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans vegetable servings and improve nutrient intake for all age and sex categories. Although inclusion of many types of vegetables in the diet improves nutritional adequacy, a priority public health message is to increase vegetable consumption. Potatoes appear to be a pathway to increased vegetable consumption, thereby helping to meet the recommended 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans servings for vegetables provided the forms served limit the amount of added salt and fat. Potatoes, in all forms, when consumed in MyPlate serving sizes, can be part of health-promoting dietary patterns. More research is needed to determine the health contributions of white vegetables as a source of nutrients and bioactive constituents and their bioavailability beyond the isolated components.

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  1. Weaver C, Marr ET. White Vegetables: A Forgotten Source of Nutrients: Purdue Roundtable Executive Summary. Advances in Nutrition. 2013; 4(3):318S–326S. doi:10.3945/an.112.003566.
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