Potatoes have gotten a bad rap for a long time, often for good reasons. French fries are salty, fattening, and nearly devoid of nutrients; baked potatoes laden with butter or sour cream are high in calories; don’t even mention potato chips. But new research finds that eating potatoes that aren’t fried or loaded with fattening condiments can improve blood pressure.
Eighteen subjects who were overweight or obese and had high blood pressure ate six to eight purple potatoes (each about golf-ball size) with skins twice a day for a month. Researchers monitored their blood pressure and found an average drop in diastolic pressure (the lower number) of 4.3 percent and a systolic reduction of 3.5 percent. None of the participants gained weight during the study.
Purple potatoes were chosen because they’re rich in healthful phytochemicals. The researchers believe red-skinned or white potatoes would produce similar results. To preserve nutrients, the potatoes were cooked in a microwave oven.
“Mention ‘potato’ and people think ‘fattening, high carbs, empty calories,’” said lead researcher Joe Vinson, PhD, of the University of Scranton. “In reality, when prepared without frying and served without butter, margarine, or sour cream, one [medium white] potato has only 110 calories and dozens of healthful phytochemicals and vitamins.”