High blood pressure, as the name suggests, means your blood pressure is consistently too high and means that your heart has to work harder to pump blood around your body. If left untreated, it can lead to heart and circulatory diseases such as heart attack. You can lower your blood pressure by making simple dietary tweaks. Unfortunately, the reverse is true also.
The researchers compared the health of those who had eaten potatoes four or more times a week with those who had done so only once a month.
The former was associated with a higher risk of hypertension in participants in all three studies, they said.
“These findings have potentially important public health ramifications, as they do not support a potential benefit from the inclusion of potatoes as vegetables in government food programmes, but instead support a harmful effect that is consistent with adverse effects of high carbohydrate intakes seen in controlled feeding studies,” said the authors, who work at Brigham and Women’s hospital and Harvard University.
To minimise the risks, they advise substituting potatoes as often as possible with non-starchy vegetables.
Non-starchy vegetables are those which contain smaller amounts of carbohydrate, such as leafy greens.
Surprisingly, the researchers found no association between eating crisps and an increased risk of high blood pressure.
However, the scientists did not measure people’s salt intake, which could affect their findings.
At the time of publication, Victoria Taylor, a senior dietician at the British Heart Foundation, further questioned their conclusions: “This type of study can only show an association, not cause and effect.
“We cannot therefore conclude that potatoes cause high blood pressure and we cannot explain the cause of the effects seen in the study among higher consumers of potatoes.”
She added: “Although a higher consumption of potatoes, such as mashed potatoes or french fries, was associated with high blood pressure, it is still possible that other factors in the diet or lifestyle are also affecting the results, especially as both the blood pressure and food frequency were self-reported.”
General dietary tips to lower your reading
“Eating a low-fat diet that includes lots of fibre, such as wholegrain rice, bread and pasta, and plenty of fruit and vegetables also helps lower blood pressure,” says the NHS.
“Aim to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables every day.”