The American Chemical Society reports that just a couple of servings of spuds a day reduces blood pressure almost as much as oatmeal without causing weight gain.
But don’t reach for the ketchup, vinegar or mayonnaise. The research was not done with French fries, but with potatoes cooked without oil in a microwave oven.
Scientists reported on the research, done on a group of overweight people with high blood pressure, at the 242nd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in August.
“The potato, more than perhaps any other vegetable, has an undeserved bad reputation that has led many health-conscious people to ban them from their diet,” Joe Vinson, PhD, who headed the research said in an ACS release.
“Mention ‘potato’ and people think ‘fattening, high-carbs, empty calories’. 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. We hope our research helps to remake the potato’s popular nutritional image.”
Purple potatoes were used in the study because the pigment, or coloring material, in fruits and vegetables is especially rich in beneficial phytochemicals. Vinson said that he strongly suspects a future study using white potatoes, now in the planning stages, will produce similar results.
Vinson said that other studies have identified substances in potatoes with effects in the body similar to those of the well-known ACE-inhibitor medications, a mainstay for treating high blood pressure. Other phytochemicals in potatoes occur in amounts that rival broccoli, spinach and Brussels sprouts, and also may be involved, Vinson added.
Unfortunately for French fry and potato chip fans, those high cooking temperatures seem to destroy most of the healthy substances in a potato, leaving mainly starch, fat and minerals. Potatoes in the study were simply microwaved, which Vinson said seems to be the best way to preserve nutrients.
Funding for the study came from the United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service State Cooperative Potato Research Program.