Eating French fries could be good for blood pressure

A file photo shows French fries (PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images)

Do you want to lower your blood pressure?  How does a plate of French fries sound?

Researchers at Purdue University say eating more potatoes may work better for controlling blood pressure than taking certain supplements.

The researchers say increasing dietary potassium from foods like baked and boiled potatoes helps to reduce sodium retention and drops systolic blood pressure versus the 'typical American' control diet.  French fries, minus the extra salt and ketchup, are OK too.

Researchers experimented with 30 pre-hypertensive people and found French fries aren't necessarily bad for the heart.

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Results showed that including baked/boiled potato consumption as part of a typical American diet had the greatest benefit on reducing sodium retention, even more than the supplement, and resulted in a greater systolic blood pressure reduction compared to the control diet.

The authors say that despite the negative perception about French fires, a 330-calorie serving of basked fries had no adverse effect on blood pressure.

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The key, they found, is the potassium-to-sodium ratio.

"While significant emphasis is often placed on reducing dietary sodium intakes to better control for blood pressure and cardiovascular disease risk, that's only half of the story," says Connie Weaver, PhD, the primary investigator. "Potassium plays just as an important role, and perhaps the ratio of potassium to sodium is most important in the context of the entire food matrix, as the potato meal resulted in a greater reduction of sodium retention than the potassium supplement alone."

Potatoes comprise roughly 20 percent of the vegetable intake in the American diet, researchers say.

The study was published in the journal Nutrients.