Potatoes, long shunned by the diet-conscious as fattening, could be a godsend for obese people, though. Eating spuds twice daily can lower blood pressure, that too minus the risk of weight gain, says a new study.

Joe Vinson, from Scranton University in Pennsylvania, US, who led the study, said: "Mention potato and people think fattening, high carbs, empty calories." "We hope our research helps to remake the potato’s popular nutritional image. Lowering blood pressure (BP) cuts the risk of heart attacks and strokes," added Vinson.

Microwaved spuds, free of butter, oil or ketchup, are the best for health. Baked potatoes and boiled spuds, including mash, are also acceptable, the Daily Mail reports. In the study, a group of men and women were asked to eat six to eight golf ball-sized spuds with their lunch and dinner, as part of their normal diet. Most of them were overweight or obese and on pills to lower BP.

After a month of the 'treatment', their BP readings dropped - suggesting that potatoes were good enough to replace tablets that could not do any more. Besides none of the volunteers gained any weight. Potatoes are thought to have a satiating effect but it is also likely that those taking part in the study cut back on other foods. They should be cooked, ideally in the microwave, with their skins - rich in many of the health-giving, BP-lowering chemicals.
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