Looking for a satisfying comfort food that’s also healthy? Put purple potatoes on your shopping list. New research suggests these colorful, nutritious tubers may contribute to lower blood pressure levels.

In a study by the University of Scranton, 18 obese volunteers with high blood pressure were served 6 to 8 purple potatoes (golf ball sized) with lunch and dinner for four weeks. The subjects otherwise ate as they would normally. After a month, 72% of participants registered lower blood pressure levels — and no weight gain. While the average blood pressure drop was modest (4%), the proportion of those enjoying this benefit was significant. Moreover, the daily double dose of purple spuds constituted quite a contribution to nutrient intakes — offering 55% of daily vitamin C, 35% of daily B6 and 26% of potassium, for just 218 calories.

Purple potatoes get their vibrant color from anthocyanins, which may also have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant or anti-carcinogenic properties, according to preliminary research. Whether you like your potatoes purple, red, white or yellow — make sure to include the peels, which contain polyphenolic extracts shown to protect red blood cells against oxidative damage.Bonus: Looking for other ways to lower blood pressure?   Limit sodium and caffeine, get more protein from non-meat sources (like peas and other legumes), increase potassium intake (hello, bananas!) and get moving. Even three 25-minute walks a week can produce results.

Published November 1, 2011