Why does the world’s biggest potato contain less fibre than we think?
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In a recent paper, published in Nature, researchers found that while some of the world ‘s largest potato crops contain as much fibre as we thought, others are just a few per cent as dense as we think.
They used a mathematical model to calculate the densities of a sample of the largest crops in the world, which included all varieties of potatoes grown in Australia, New Zealand, and the UK.
The authors say the model suggests that the density of potato fibre in these crops has been underestimated in the past.
They found that the average fiber content of the top 20 per cent of the crops in this group was around 13 per cent, with a little over 5 per cent being ‘unlikely’ to contain as little fibre as was reported.
The researchers believe this ‘undercount’ is the result of a number of factors.
Firstly, they suggest that a lot of the ‘potato fibre’ is absorbed through the soil, while the rest of the fibre is absorbed into the crop.
Secondly, the researchers found a ‘negative feedback loop’ whereby more fibre was absorbed by the potato than was absorbed through soil, which could explain why some of these crops contained less fibre in the first place.
But they also found that ‘many more crops are actually far higher in fibre’ than the one in question, which suggests that ‘the ‘under-count’ of the data may be more widespread than we realised.’
“The paper highlights the need to improve our understanding of the potential health effects of high levels of fiber consumption, as the amount of fibre consumed in the diet has a substantial impact on the body,” said co-author and researcher, Associate Professor Simon Pyle, from the Department of Chemistry at the University of NSW.
“For example, a diet high in fiber can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, lower the risk for bowel cancer, and lower the likelihood of cardiovascular disease.”‘
Potato fibre has a lot to say about the health benefits of eating it’The study also found the fibre content of many of the potatoes grown worldwide is much higher than what the researchers estimated from their mathematical model.
For example: The highest-fibre potatoes in the UK are estimated to contain around 25 per cent more fibre than their ‘average’ of 16 per cent.
The paper, ‘The impact of fibre on fibre-rich potato crops’ published in the journal Nature Plants, found that some of Australia’s top 10 crops contain ‘about 25 per the crop density’ of our average.
“We estimate that the fibre in most of these top 10 varieties is about 25 per kilogramme of the crop,” co-lead author, Professor Simon Ritchie, from Australia’s Macquarie University, said.
“It’s not only the fibre that’s important, it’s also the size of the fiber.”
“In fact, in the case of the highest-value varieties, there’s actually a lot more fibre in them than the average,” he added.
“This is a big deal, because if we look at other crops that have similar fibre levels, they actually have lower fiber content than we’re used to seeing.”
Professor Pyle said they hoped the paper would encourage farmers to increase the size and density of their potatoes.
“The reason we want to improve the uptake of fibre in potatoes is that they are one of the most important food crops for our society,” he said.
“They are very important for our energy consumption, they’re very important as a source of fibre, they have a very high fibre content.”
Professor Ritchie and co-authors from Macquarrie University are currently analysing the data to understand how many more crops the top-fiber potatoes in Australia are actually growing.
In a recent paper, published in Nature, researchers found that while some of the world ‘s largest potato crops contain…