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Superfood spuds can help blood pressure

The humble spud has emerged as an unlikely superfood after a study showed potatoes can reduce blood pressure.

Scientists fed 18 volunteers six to eight potatoes twice a day and found that after a month their average blood pressure readings had improved.

Systolic blood pressure, the "upper" reading when blood is pumped with each beat of the heart, was down by 3.5pc.

At the same time, the diastolic "lower" reading, showing the pressure between beats when blood vessels are relaxed, decreased by 4.3pc.

Most of the patients were overweight or obese and already taking drugs for high blood pressure, yet the potatoes still appeared to have an effect.

Lead researcher Dr Joe Vinson, from the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania, US said: "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."

For the study, the researchers used purple potatoes that were cooked in a microwave in their jackets without oil.

Purple potatoes were chosen because colour pigments in fruits and vegetables are especially rich in beneficial chemicals. But the scientists believe red-skinned or white potatoes may have similar effects.

Unfortunately for chip fans, high cooking temperatures destroy most of the healthy chemicals in potatoes, leaving mainly starch, fat and minerals.