Purple spuds can help lower blood pressureSwapping regular spuds for purple potatoes could help lower blood pressure levels without adding unwanted weight gain, says a new US study.

The reason? Pigmented potatoes contain high concentrations of phenolic acids, anthocyanins and carotenoids, powerful antioxidants that pack a nutritional punch, says a team of US researchers in a study released by the American Chemical Society last week.

In what is described as the first study of its kind to observe the effects of potato consumption on blood pressure in humans, researchers followed 18 overweight volunteers with high blood pressure over a two month period as they went from a diet consuming regular or no potatoes to a regime heavy on purple potatoes.

After four weeks of eating 6 to 8 microwaved purple spuds, researchers found that the average diastolic blood pressure dropped by 4 percent, while systolic pressure decreased by 3.5 percent — enough to reduce the risk of developing several forms of heart disease, researchers say.

Following the results of their investigation, scientists recommend eating two small helpings of purple potatoes a day to help lower blood pressure levels. The study was published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

The most popular veggie in the US is the potato, with the highest daily per capita consumption of all vegetables in the American diet.

Purple potatoes have long been used in Korean folk medicine as a natural way to lose weight.

Recently, US scientists looking to harness the power of colorful, antioxidant-rich foods bred a purple tomato dubbed the Indigo Rose to be full of anthocyanins, the compound that gives foods like blueberries their blueish-purple hue.

Anthocyanins have been shown to help with cognitive function, and help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress.