Bringing Back Potatoes

Potatoes are loaded with phytochemicals and vitamins

(RxWiki News) Many Americans believe that potatoes are just vessels for high starch and calories. This is not true though – potatoes have real health benefits.

Researchers believe potatoes have nutrients that can help lower blood pressure in obese or overweight individuals. They don’t mean French fries or potato chips though.

"Potatoes that are cooked are best; but never fried."

Joe Vinson, Ph.D., from the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania, found potatoes have substances that have the similar effects as ACE-inhibitors. ACE-inhibitors are a common medication prescribed to people who have high blood pressure to lower it.

The study included 18 people who are overweight or obese with high blood pressure. They were asked to eat six to eight purple potatoes – golf ball size potatoes – with skin twice a day for a month. Colored fruits and vegetables are high in phytochemicals, so the researchers used purple potatoes.

Blood pressure was monitored throughout the experiment. The results showed participants were able to lower their diastolic blood pressure (resting pressure) by 4.3 percent and their systolic blood pressure (pressure when the heart pumps) by 3.5 percent. No participant in the study gained any weight from this experiment.

French fries and potato chips do not have any health benefits because the high temperature used to prepare them destroys the beneficial phytochemicals and healthy substances. If a potato is cooked in a microwave without oil, butter, margarine or sour cream, then it only has 110 calories. It is also jam packed with phytochemicals and vitamins.

It seems that the best way to preserve all the health benefits in a potato is to microwave it, Vinson says.

This report was presented at the 242nd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

Review Date: 
September 1, 2011