Blood pressure spikes… from potatoes?

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Here in the UK we love our Sunday roast… it’s an institution… but sadly, it turns out that those delicious brown and crispy roasted potatoes can send your blood pressure sky high!

Don’t be a potato head

Potatoes are considered a vegetable, but they are almost entirely made up of starchy carbohydrates. And that makes them act less like a veggie and more like a bowl of pasta.

So, don’t be fooled by their healthy “vegetable” label. Because this wolf in sheep’s clothing has previously been shown to increase your risk of type 2 diabetes… not to mention the damage they can do to your waistline.

And now, new research suggests that eating too many potatoes can increase the risk of developing high blood pressure.

Researchers from Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital used three large cohort studies to follow 187,000 men and women for more than 20 years. They found that the participants who consumed four or more servings of potatoes a week over a prolonged period of time – especially women – had a significantly increased risk for high blood pressure when compared to those who ate less than one serving a month.

French fries were the worst offenders, increasing the risk by 17 per cent… but even potatoes cooked in a “healthy” way (like baked or boiled) increased the risk of high blood pressure by 11 per cent.

The researchers suggest that the high glycaemic load in potatoes can contribute to high blood pressure not only because of weight gain, but because of an increased risk of oxidative stress and inflammation. And this risk increase may just be enough to outweigh the potential health benefits you get from the potassium content in potatoes.

Fortunately, there is also some good news. According to the Harvard researchers, replacing just one of your potato servings for the week with a non-starchy vegetable like broccoli, can help keep your blood pressure in check.

I know that there won’t be many of us that enjoy a Sunday roast four to five times a week. But the truth is, potatoes are a staple in many people’s diets.

So, if your dinner plate contains potatoes more than once a week, try some potato substitutes instead like cauliflower — packed with cancer-fighting sulforaphane and none of the starch found in potatoes. A cup of cauliflower has fewer carbohydrates and about a tenth of the calories of a potato.

Or swap your white potatoes for their distant cousin, sweet potatoes. The tasty sweet potato is filled with potassium like the white potato… but it also has heart-healthy magnesium… and it’s been shown to actually lower blood pressure.



Disclaimer: Bear in mind the material contained in this article is provided for information purposes only. We are not addressing anyone’s personal situation. Please consult with your own physician before acting on any recommendations contained herein.

Sources:

Potato intake and incidence of hypertension: results from three prospective US cohort studies, bmj.com/content/353/bmj.i2351

Potatoes four times a week could cause high blood pressure, study says, theguardian.com/society/2016/may/17/potato-blight-eating-spuds-four-times-a-week-could-be-harmful

Higher potato consumption associated with increased risk of high blood pressure, sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/05/160517191803.htm

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