Researchers at Colorado State University (CSU) have developed new varieties of purple potato that are much richer in antioxidants than traditional white and yellow varieties. They're said to be on par with superfoods such as blueberries and pomegranates, potentially upgrading the humble potato to the ranks of health food.
The CSU Potato Program has developed a range of different-colored potatoes such as red, purple, yellow and white. The purple and red varieties are the ones with highest concentration of antioxidants, which help protect proteins and DNA from the damaging effect of free radicals.
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The colorful potatoes can also be a source of vitamin C, folic acid, minerals, potassium, iron, zinc and phenolic compounds, the researchers say. They could reportedly help prevent diseases such as cancer, heart-related conditions and atherosclerosis.
Another advantage of the newly developed potatoes is that they have lower levels of acrylamide, a probable carcinogenic chemical which forms when potato is fried or baked. The research team additionally found that the phytochemicals in purple and red potatoes have properties that could make diabetic patients less likely to develop cataracts.
The researchers believe their research could help rebrand the potato, and help it recover it from flagging sales over health concerns. That said, the potato isn't doing so badly – it still is the top vegetable crop in the US and fourth largest crop worldwide, losing out to wheat, rice and corn.