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Potatoes lower blood pressure without weight gain

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Potatoes lower blood pressure

Purple potatoes lower blood pressure without weight gain, find researchers. Natural treatments for high blood pressure are welcome by consumers seeking to improve health and avoid or minimize medications. A new study shows two servings of potatoes a day, minus the calorie laden additions, can lower blood pressure for people with obesity and hypertension, without adding pounds.

The finding, presented at the 42nd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), found microwaved potatoes cooked without oil lowered blood pressure as much as eating oatmeal in overweight people with high blood pressure.

The finding, according to Joe Vinson, Ph.D., who headed the research, means potatoes have a bad reputation that is undeserved.

He says he hopes the research will give new awareness to the healthful potential the potato, typically shunned by dieters.

“Mention ‘potato’ and people think ‘fattening, high-carbs, empty calories’, says Vinson. In reality, when prepared without frying and served without butter, margarine or sour cream, one potato has only 110 calories and dozens of healthful phytochemicals and vitamins."

According to Vinson, studies suggest potatoes have chemicals that act like ACE inhibitor drugs commonly used to treat high blood pressure. Other chemical in potatoes are also found in spinach, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.

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Cooking a potato to make chips or fries destroys the healthy benefits, leaving starch, fat and minerals.

The researchers used purple potatoes for the study. Included were 18patients with obesity and high blood pressure. For two weeks, they ate 6 to 8 small purple potatoes a day.

None of the participants gained weight. Eating potatoes dropped systolic blood pressure by 4.3 percent and the systolic pressure by 3.5 percent, said Vinson.

Patient taking blood pressure medications also experienced drops in blood pressure.

Colorful vegetables have high levels of antioxidants. The authors concluded, “…purple potatoes are an effective hypotensive agent and lower the risk of heart disease and stroke in hypertensive subjects without a weight gain.”

Vinson, who is with the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania, has done extensive research on healthful components found in food. He suspects white and other potatoes can have the same blood pressure lowering effect of the purple variety used in the study.

This page is updated on April 18, 2013.