Potatoes are rich in both magnesium and potassium, two vital nutrients for heart health. When potassium is low, the body retains extra sodium (and too much sodium raises blood pressure). On the other hand, when you eat a potassium-rich diet, the body becomes more efficient at getting rid of excess sodium. Like potassium, magnesium is also a key player in promoting healthy blood flow. Therefore, maintaining a healthy balance of both minerals can help keep high blood pressure at bay.
Potatoes could be the latest superfood. For eating a portion twice a day can lower blood pressure, researchers say. What is more? It seems there is no weight gain involved. Potatoes have long been maligned as fattening and shunned by those following the Dukan and other low-carb diets. However, before you get out the roasting tin or rush to the chip shop, read on.
Microwaved spuds, free of butter, oil or ketchup, are best for health, scientists say. Baked potatoes and boiled spuds, including mash, are also acceptable.
In the study, 18 men and women were asked to eat six to eight golf ball-sized potatoes with their lunch and dinner, as part of their normal diet.
Most of those taking part were overweight or obese and on pills to lower blood pressure. After a month of the ‘tattie treatment’, their blood pressure readings dropped significantly – suggesting the potatoes were powerful enough to take over when the tablets could not do any more.
In addition, none of the volunteers put on any weight.
Potatoes are thought to have a satiating effect but it is also likely that those taking part in the study cut back on other foods, the American Chemical Society’s annual conference reported. Those used in the U.S. agriculture department-funded study were purple and so small that they contained as few as 12 calories each, but the researchers believe that ordinary potatoes should also benefit health.
They should be cooked – ideally in the microwave – with their skins on.
This is because many of the health-boosting, blood pressure-lowering chemicals are in the skin.
Microwaving is preferred because, unlike the high temperatures used to fry and roast, it preserves most of the goodness. Researcher Joe Vinson, from Scranton University in Pennsylvania, said: ‘Mention “potato” and people think “fattening, high carbs, empty calories”.
‘We hope our research helps to remake the potato’s popular nutritional image.’
Dr Vinson, who likes his potatoes baked and topped with salad cream, added that lowering blood pressure cuts the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Previous research has shown potatoes contain phyto, or plant, chemicals similar to those found in blood pressure drugs.”