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This weeks question comes from Michelle B, New Bedford CT. Do purple potatoes lower high blood pressure? It is a very interesting question because white potatoes have been shown to increase high blood pressure.

Purple potatoes are high-antioxidant foods that are eye-catching since the skin and the flesh are both purple, making them a beautiful adornment to any plate. But it’s not just the color that’s appealing. Purple potatoes offer a host of awesome benefits from working as a healthy food-coloring agent to helping regulate blood pressure to aiding athletic performance and more.

A small study presented by the American Chemical Society found that eating purple potatoes may lower blood pressure. This could be because of their effect on the capillaries and blood vessels, along with the high concentration of a phytochemical called chlorogenic acid, which has been linked to lower blood pressure found in some studies. This research shows that plain purple potatoes, baked or cooked in the microwave, lowered the blood pressure of subjects that were reviewed by 3 percent to 4 percent, with no weight gain, and was likely due to the antioxidant behavior and phytonutrient density that these colorful gems exude.

“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 diets,” says Joe Vinson, Ph.D., of the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania, who headed the study. “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.”

The average diastolic blood pressure of the study subjects dropped by 4.3 percent and the systolic pressure decreased by 3.5 percent, said Vinson, who has done extensive research on healthful components in foods. The majority of subjects took anti-hypertensive drugs and still had a reduction in blood pressure. None of the study participants gained weight.

Although researchers used purple potatoes, they believe that red-skin potatoes and white potatoes may have similar effects.

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