The High Blood Pressure Link to Potatoes

Who doesn’t love a good potato?

French fries. Baked potatoes. Greek-style potatoes. Hash Browns. Au gratin.

A new study, however, has found that people who eat potatoes four or more times a week have an increased risk of hypertension. People who eat french fries have a 17 percent higher risk for high blood pressure. African Americans, who have a higher risk for high blood pressure especially as we age, need to particularly take note.

As the New York Times reported, even after controlling for body mass index, physical activity, smoking and other factors, researchers found that compared to eating potatoes only once a month, having one potato — baked, boiled or mashed — four to six times a week increased the risk for hypertension by 11 percent. Eating four or more four-ounce servings of French fries a week increased the risk by 17 percent.

Potatoes are a mainstay of traditional soul food. Hash browns for breakfast, baked potatoes or french fries at lunch, and mashed potatoes or potato salad for Sunday dinner or special occasions are commonplace. But researchers sorting through data from more than 187,000 women and men over 25 years found the potato link to hypertension. Potato consumption can cause a rapid rise in blood glucose levels, which can affect the vessels and create inflammation, which increase risk of hypertension.

Cutting down on potato consumption to a couple times a month — and leaving out the extra butter, fat-laden gravy and salt — might lower risk of high blood pressure. Given that hypertension is a factor in increased risk for cognitive decline as we age, cutting back on tubers could help both the heart and the head.

Author: Retha Hill

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