Eating broccoli with potatoes reduces the risk of weight gain and type 2 diabetes. Photo: Jon-Are Berg-Jacobsen © Nofima

Project Year 2017

Broccoli makes mashed potato healthier

 Food and health  

Eating broccoli with potatoes causes blood sugar to rise less and more slowly than eating potatoes alone, reducing the risk of weight gain and type 2 diabetes, which are both associated with blood sugar spikes.

Nofima scientist Simon Ballance has been doing research on potatoes for several years, and when he discovered the positive effects of broccoli on potatoes, he wanted to find out why.

Measuring blood sugar

The study was conducted on healthy adults, who ate four different meals with equal amounts of mashed potato: with broccoli, without broccoli, with fibre from broccoli and with a different dietary fibre.

“We then measured their blood sugar over a 180 minute period: every 15 minutes in the first hour after the meal, every 30 minutes in the second hour, and then after three hours,” Simon Ballance explains.

A number of studies have previously been done in which potatoes are served with various different vegetables. Serving mashed potato with a mixed salad (tomato, cucumber, lettuce) does not have the same positive effect as serving mashed potato with boiled broccoli.

Nor do carrots, peas, Chinese cabbage or Brussels sprouts seem to have any significant effect, whereas spinach has the same promising results as broccoli.

Looking at whole meals

The Nofima scientist is looking at the effect on blood sugar spikes of other typical Norwegian dinner foods such as salmon and carrots when eaten with potato, rice and pasta.

“In reality, no-one eats just potatoes, so research must focus on meals rather than individual foods, especially in terms of effect on blood sugar levels,” says Simon Ballance.

The Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research (NIBIO)

Research Funding for Agriculture and Food Industry, The Norwegian potato industry

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