Don’t put your potatoes in the fridge

October 7, 2009 by  
Filed under Food & Nutrition


Few people now have larders so most perishables end up in the fridge. And now we are more conscious than ever of not wasting food, we are more likely to transfer vegetables to the fridge to keep them fresher.

BUT, storing potatoes in this way is not a good idea as the cold makes the starch they contain turn into sugar. This means your potatoes are sweeter than they should be, and diabetics in particular need to avoid this.

Try keeping them in a cool place, 45-50 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal, and avoid storing them with onions because, when close together, they produce gases that spoil both. Personally I swear by Lakeland’s cotton vegetable bags which have a dark liner and keep root veg fresh for longer.

Ovarian cancer risk from food

June 18, 2008 by  
Filed under Food & Nutrition, Womens Health

There is news this month of a surprising finding from the results of an eleven year study on diet and cancer occurrence in the Netherlands. This was a long-term study of nearly 63,000 women who faithfully filled in dietary questionnaires for the whole of that period and what researchers found was a link between a greatly increased risk of ovarian and endometrial cancers with certain dietary habits.

The ‘guilty party’ is Acrylamide, which is a chemical produced when starchy foods like potatoes are baked, fried or roasted, but does not occur with boiling. It was first detected in food in 2002; prior to that, acrylamide was believed to be a solely industrial chemical and a number of previous studies have implicated it as a carcinogen.

Unusually, the problem is compounded if the women had never smoked as statistically the non-smokers from the women in the study were even more susceptible. They had a 99 percent higher risk of endometrial cancer and a 122 percent higher risk of ovarian cancer among those with the highest acrylamide intake. By contrast, the smokers had a 29 percent higher risk of endometrial cancer and a 78 percent higher risk of ovarian cancer, though why this should be the case the research hasn’t yet thrown up.

While some scientists have hypothesized that the human body may detoxify acrylamide when it is ingested in food, or that human intake is too low to pose health risks, the current study suggests that even at dietary doses, acrylamide is a human carcinogen.

What can you do? As ever, balance is the answer. If it is frying, baking and roasting are the culprits then reduce the amount of times you have potatoes, or other starchy foods, done in this way. Enjoy your new potatoes steamed or boiled with some herb butter and keep the roasties and chips to an occasional treat.

5-a-day fallacy

March 14, 2008 by  
Filed under Diets, featured, Food & Nutrition, Health

Unless you have been on a desert island with your 8 gramophone records, and lucky you, then you will know that the minimum requirement to be healthy is to eat your 5 portions of fruit and veg a day. The message seems to have got through, but the devil is in the detail. A survey by the Health Food Manufacturers’ Association has revealed that on average only 14% of Britons manage those 5 portions, and, what is worse, around two-thirds of us – a staggering 38 million people – are counting potatoes in as one of their daily five. I love a good roastie as much as the next woman, perhaps rather too much so, but whatever form you eat potatoes in they are principally a source of carbohydrate. True they contain some vitamin C, but you can’t have them as part of your daily allowance.

Apparently the top favourites we do include in our diet are bananas and carrots but that isn’t enough to stop the Government’s latest Cabinet Office discussion paper from concluding that up to 70,000 premature deaths a year could be avoided if people simply followed basic nutritional guidelines.