The humble spud has received a lot of bad publicity over how it can affect people's health, with some research linking them to Type 2 diabetes. But another look at them - and how they are cooked - points the knife, or peeler, back at us.
More than 54,000 people reported their dietary intake for the long-term Danish Diet, Cancer and Health study.
Dr Nicola Bondonno of Edith Cowan University's Nutrition and Health Innovation Research Institute, led an analysis of this study. It found people who ate the most vegetables were 21 per cent less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than those who had the least.
PhD candidate Pratik Pokharel carried out work on the analysis. He said previous studies had linked potatoes to higher incidences of diabetes, regardless of how they were prepared.
"We found that's not true."
The university's analysis of the Danish research could distinguish between the different preparation methods. When the Australian-based researchers separated boiled potatoes from mashed potatoes, fries or crisps, boiled potatoes were no longer associated with a higher risk of diabetes.
Pratik said underlying dietary patterns were key.
"In our study, people who ate the most potatoes also consumed more butter, red meat and soft drink - foods known to increase your risk of Type 2 diabetes," he said.
"When you account for that, boiled potatoes are no longer associated with diabetes. It's only fries and mashed potatoes, the latter likely because it is usually made with butter, cream and the like."
Eat your veggies
Pratik said findings from the study indicate vegetables could play a key role in reducing Type 2 diabetes, as people who ate a lot of leafy greens and cruciferous vegies such as spinach, lettuce, broccoli and cauliflower had a significantly lower risk of developing the condition.
He said the relationship between vegetables and diabetes should be incorporated into public dietary guidelines - as should the benefits of eating potatoes.
"The finding that vegetables lower diabetes risk is crucial for public health recommendations, and we shouldn't ignore it," he said.
With regards to potatoes, the researchers could not say the vegetable had a benefit in terms of type 2 diabetes, but they also aren't bad if prepared in a healthy way.
"We should separate potatoes and other vegetables in regard to messaging about disease prevention. But replacing refined grains such as white rice and pasta with potatoes can improve your diet quality because of fibre and other nutrients found in potatoes," Pratik said.
In the kitchen
Overall, people need to increase their vegetable intake - and potatoes can be a part of it, if the unhealthy extras such as butter, cream and oil are left out.
"Potatoes have fibre and nutrients, which are good for you," Pratik said.
"People talk about carbs being bad, but it's more about the type of carbs you're having. Compared to something like white rice, boiled potatoes are a good quality of carbohydrate.
"Just boil them and eat them like other greens or other foods - and you don't need to have it with red meat all the time."
Vegetable, but not potato, intakes are associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes in the Danish Diet, Cancer and Health cohort was published in Diabetes Care.