Purple potatoes don’t just look fabulous. They are an excellent source of potassium, vitamin C, vitamin B6, and the antioxidant, anthocyanin, which has been studied as an immune system booster.
The Purple potato is native to Peru and Bolivia and spread to Europe in the 16th century when Spanish sailors gathered and used the tubers to cure scurvy for long voyages. They were recently introduced to the United States in the mid-1980s and first became popular in Los Angeles for its versatility, health benefits, and vibrant color. Today, they are commercially cultivated in South America, North America, and Europe and can be found at specialty grocers and local farmers markets.
From cardiovascular health support to cognitive performance enhancement, these tubers have so much more to offer than the white potatoes most of us enjoy.
Here are some of the most exciting health benefits of purple potatoes:
May help to control blood pressure
Purple potatoes have been found to improve blood pressure. This effect might be related to their polyphenolic antioxidant compounds, which work in a way similar to that of some blood-pressure-lowering medications.
Several studies reported that purple potatoes may lower blood pressure, possibly due to their high content of chlorogenic acid and potassium. Just make sure to cook them in a healthy way! In other words, opt for boiled or roasted instead of deep-fried purple potato meals.
Are full of powerful antioxidants
When it comes to antioxidants, usually the deeper the color, the better. Purple potatoes are chock-full of anthocyanins, which are a type of antioxidant that has been shown to reduce the risk of several chronic diseases. The red- and purple-fleshed potatoes average 16 to 57 mg of anthocyanins per 100 g, and other research says their antioxidant power is comparable to that of Brussels sprouts or spinach.
In some instances, how you cook a food can influence its antioxidant levels. The biggest antioxidant losses came from stir-frying (60%) and baking (22%); whereas microwaving (6%) and boiling (8%) preserved the most nutrients. This doesn’t mean you should never stir-fry or bake purple potatoes, but to get the most antioxidant bang for your buck, try other cooking methods too. Check out our recipe for mashed purple potatoes.
The immune system prevents countless diseases and cures infections. However, sometimes it needs a little help. Eating a diet rich in antioxidants can provide that extra boost. Keep eating other fruits and vegetables known for providing antioxidants (like blueberries) and now swap out these purple potatoes to boost your immune system.
Promote heart health and boost immunity
Purple potatoes’ high antioxidant content translates into impressive heart health benefits. A recent study investigated how a purple potato extract (180 mL daily) compared with a common blood pressure medication called captopril. Not only did the purple potato extract significantly improve people’s blood pressure, but also it significantly increased the hypertension-fighting antioxidants in people’s blood.
To take it a step further, another study sought to find out how eating whole purple potatoes influenced arterial stiffness, which can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease. People in this study were either given 200 g of purple potato (about 1 medium potato) packed with anthocyanins or 200 g of white potato with negligible anthocyanins. After two weeks, blood pressure significantly improved for those eating purple potatoes compared to white potatoes.
Purple potatoes have a slew of health benefits, most of which stem from their high antioxidant content. Eating them may help cut down on inflammation and damage that can lead to chronic illnesses, like heart disease and cancer. There are plenty of compelling reasons to get these brightly colored beauties on your plate.