Eating Potatoes Could Increase High Blood Pressure Risk

New research has suggested that eating potatoes could increase high blood pressure risk.

Researchers in America analysed data from more than 187,000 people over the course of 20 years. They discovered that eating four or more servings of mashed, boiled or baked potatoes is associated with an increased risk of high blood pressure in women, in comparison to less than one serving per month.

They also discovered that both women and men who ate four plus servings of French fries every week were at a 17% greater high blood pressure risk.

Despite this, it’s good news for crisp fans – the study, which can be read in the BMJ (British Medical Journal), found that eating crisps had no effect on high blood pressure.

It was also found that replacing one daily serving of potatoes with one serving of starch-free vegetables led to a decrease of 7% in high blood pressure risk.

How are potatoes linked to high blood pressure? The research team, who hail from Harvard Medical School and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, believe that the high GI (glycaemic index) found in potatoes might be the reason.

Foods with a high GI release energy at a quicker rate, which means that blood sugar rises faster.

According to the team, meals with a high GI had been linked to inflammation, cell dysfunction within the body and oxidative stress. They said that all of these could be important mechanisms for high blood pressure development.

The group accounted for factors like the participants’ weight, but this made no difference to the results.

A different study carried out in January found that women who consume a lot of potatoes could be at an increased risk of experiencing diabetes when they’re pregnant. It found that women who eat between two and four servings of potatoes each week could be at a 27% greater risk of experiencing diabetes during pregnancy, despite their weight being taken into consideration.

Even just one weekly serving appeared to cause a 20% risk compared to women who consumed less than one weekly serving, taking into account BMI.

Women who ate more than five servings per week had an increased risk of 50%.

When women swapped two of their weekly servings with other vegetables, wholegrain foods and pulses like peas, beans and lentils, their risk decreased by 9-12%.

The British Heart Foundation’s senior dietician, Victoria Taylor, said that this kind of study can’t show cause and effect, only association. She said this means it can’t be concluded that potatoes are a cause of high blood pressure and the cause of the effects found in the study can’t be explained.

She said that though a higher consumption of potatoes, such as French fries or mashed potatoes, was linked to high blood pressure, lifestyle or other dietary factors can also have an effect on the results, particularly as both food frequency and blood pressure were self-reported.

Ms Taylor also pointed out that this study is from America, where dietary guidelines are different from the UK.