Purple potatoes may be considered a delicacy in some European countries, but it has fascinating origins, as well as many potential health benefits for those who regularly consume them.
What are Purple Potatoes?
Purple potatoes are a variety of normal potatoes, Solanum tuberosum, that originated in Peru and were eventually introduced to the Old World. These potatoes tend to be slightly smaller than russet potatoes and have a dark purple, nearly black exterior. The starchy interior of these potatoes can be a striking purple color that is retained during cooking. This color is largely due to the high concentration of anthocyanins, the same group of antioxidants that give grapes and wine their color.
There are many different cultivars of purple potatoes grown around the world now, of varying sizes, shades, and nutritional profiles. When it comes to taste, these potatoes tend to be less waxy than regular white potatoes and possess an earthy or nutty flavor, in most cases. Some of the most popular cultivars of purple potatoes include the blue Congo potato, the “all blue”, lavender, blue cloud, and purple Peruvian fingerling.
Purple Potatoes Nutrition
These varieties of potatoes are rich in fiber and protein, but relatively low in calories, coming in at only 140 calories per cup. These potatoes also provide good amounts of potassium and vitamin C, as well as various B vitamins. Most importantly, however, purple potatoes contain more than 4 times the antioxidants as regular potatoes, largely due to the concentration of anthocyanins.
Benefits of Purple Potatoes
There is a good amount of potassium in all varieties of potatoes, but in this purple variety, that potassium is helped along by the high concentration of antioxidants. By reducing the tension in the blood vessels and arteries, you can relieve strain on the cardiovascular system, thus lowering the risk of atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes, as well as coronary heart diseases.
While regular potatoes are good for you, the purple varieties are packed with powerful antioxidants, including anthocyanins and flavonoids. These antioxidants have been linked to countless improvements in health, but their main function is to neutralize free radicals, the dangerous byproducts of cellular respiration that can cause inflammation and chronic disease.
Studies have found that regularly consuming these types of potatoes increase certain markers of liver enzyme activity, signaling that the body is more effectively eliminating waste and cleansing the blood. This may be stimulated by the powerful antioxidants found in these purple vegetables.
One of the most important functions of antioxidants is their impact on inflammatory compounds in the brain; by clearing out neural pathways and preventing beta-amyloid deposition, these potatoes can lower your risk of neurodegenerative diseases.
Eating potatoes and other starchy, nutrient-dense foods can help you prevent overeating and snacking between meals. When you eat high-fiber vegetables, it helps to keep you full, and also slows down the release of blood sugar and insulin, which can prevent hunger pangs.
With excellent amounts of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds in these potatoes, regular consumption can help in reducing the risk of various cancers. Venkata Charepalli, Lavanya Reddivari, et al, researchers at the Pennsylvania State University, USA published a study in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, which stated that purple potatoes consist of several substances such as anthocyanins, chlorogenic acid, and resistant starch that help in killing the colon cancer stem cells. Additionally, the study states that the color compounds in the potato that make it purple suppresses cancer growth.
With moderate amounts of fiber, these potatoes can stimulate peristaltic motion in the small intestine, which can relieve symptoms of constipation, bloating, cramping, and stomach upset. The anti-inflammatory properties can also ease conditions like irritable bowel syndrome.
Starchy and carbohydrate-dense foods can be an excellent way to boost your energy levels and increase your endurance when performing physical tasks.
By reducing cholesterol levels, lowering blood pressure and thinning the blood, these potatoes are ideal for preventing blood clots, which can lead to strokes or heart attacks. However, this blood-thinning property of these potatoes means that they should be avoided prior to surgery, or if you suffer from bleeding disorders.
How to Cook Purple Potatoes?
There are many ways to cook purple potatoes, most of which are the same as cooking regular potatoes. The most popular ways to cook these potatoes include making purple mashed potatoes or boiling the potatoes before baking them in the oven. When you boil the potatoes, some of the colors will begin to fade, which is a sign that you are decreasing the antioxidant content of the potatoes. Baking these purple-hued potatoes is a particularly popular way to prepare them, as is making purple pancakes!