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Mash This Kind of Potato to Baby Your Heart

Mash This Kind of Potato to Baby Your Heart

Potatoes sometimes get a bad health rap. But new research shows that certain varieties may help quiet inflammatory processes that set the stage for disease.

Specifically, researchers recently sang the praises of potatoes with yellow flesh—like Yukon Gold. In a small study of men, eating a cup of yellow potatoes every day for 6 weeks helped lower blood levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6), a compound that promotes inflammation.

Inflammation overload
Inflammatory cycles go something like this: First, free radicals in your body—generated by stress, illness, pollutants, and normal everyday body processes—start to damage cells and tissues. In response, your body releases IL-6 to help corral and neutralize some of those free radicals. But chronically high levels of IL-6 can up your risk of inflammation-related diseases. Enter, potatoes. Research suggests that antioxidants in yellow potatoes—like phenols and carotenoids—may help fight the out-of-control inflammation that makes you susceptible to a wide range of illnesses, from heart disease to cancer.

Top tater
Purple potatoes seemed to be beneficial, too. In the study, adult men up to age 40 ate a cup of boiled potatoes every day for 6 weeks. The men who ate yellow potatoes had lower levels of IL-6 and exhibited less DNA damage compared with the men who ate white potatoes. Purple-potato eaters had lower levels of a different inflammatory marker, C-reactive protein, compared with white-potato eaters. Researchers suspect the rich pigments in colored potatoes help protect cells, tissue, and DNA from the free radical injuries that initiate inflammation. Here are three more ways to fight inflammation:

Did you know? Belly fat may be a sign of elevated inflammation. Learn more about losing belly fat.

Take the first steps to growing younger and healthier with the RealAge Test.

Medically reviewed in April 2019.

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