Have you tried the burgundy, purple potatoes so prevalent in farmers markets these days? Their beautiful hue is eye-catching, and it turns out, their beauty is more than skin-deep. They’re actually chock-full of nutrients that may, in fact, ward off strokes and heart disease with 1/2 cup servings.
This is good news for potato lovers.
Scroll to the foot of this post for 5 health benefits of purple potatoes, varieties to grow in your kitchen garden, and recipes featuring these delicious tubers.
Colorado State University says of purple potatoes, “the same pigments that give red wine and blueberries their potential health benefits, burgundy-hued spuds can boast a whopping three times the polyphenols of the regular white kind.”
Are you ready to go shopping for purple potatoes yet? There’s more.
Let’s talk about diet, and blood pressure. Good news on that front as well.
A study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Technology found that by “adding a 140g serving [about 1/2 cup] of purple potatoes twice a day to the diet of overweight, middle-aged subjects caused their blood pressure to drop almost five points within just a month – despite the fact that almost 80% of them were already on antihypotensive drugs. Such a fall could ‘decrease the risk of stroke by 34% and of heart disease by 21%’ according to Barts and The London School of Medicine. These potatoes added 280 calories to their daily diet, but the subjects in this trial didn’t gain weight either,” reports the Guardian.
The good news doesn’t stop merely with purple hued potatoes. Purple sweet potatoes have long been studied for their contribution to longevity.
A recent New York Times bestselling book, “The Blue Zones Solution,” studied people who live in Okinawa, a group of islands south of Japan and north of Taiwan. “For almost a thousand years,” author Dan Buettner tells us, “this Pacific archipelago has maintained a reputation for nurturing extreme longevity. Okinawans over the age of 65 enjoy the world’s highest life expectancy.”
In the book, Buettner says, “All Okinawans age 100 or more who are alive today were born between 1903 and 1914. During the first third of their lives, roughly before 1940, the vast majority of the calories they consumed — more than 60 percent — came from one food: the imo, or Okinawan sweet potato. A purple or yellow variety related to our orange sweet potato, the imo came here from the Americas about 400 years ago and took well to Okinawan soils. This sweet potato — high in flavonoids, vitamin C, fiber, carotenoids, and slow-burning carbohydrates — is one of the healthiest foods on the planet.”
While more research is needed, there is a growing body of scientific evidence that suggests exciting health benefits of purple potatoes, specifically in the area of stroke and heart disease.
So… the next time you peruse produce at the market, you might want to pick up some beautiful dazzling shades of purple spuds.
5 Health Benefits of Purple Potatoes
1. Help lower and regulate blood pressure
Studies show, “that people who ate plain purple potatoes cooked in the microwave twice a day for a month lowered their blood pressure by 3%-4% without gaining weight.”
2. May Prevent Blood Clots
Purple potatoes contain chlorogenic acid. This acid has been shown to break down blood clots and inhibit the enzymatic activity of procoagulant proteins and peptides.
3. Filled with antioxidants and phytonutrients
Loaded with antioxidants and disease-fighting phytonutrients, the purple potato can also help reduce inflammation. Anthocyanin is the compound that contributes to its brilliant purple color. This element acts like a free-radical scavenger. Anthocyanin pigments have long been part of folk medicine used as remedies for liver dysfunction and hypertension, and also helping reduce the risks of eye diseases and infections.
The purple potato provides a good source of insoluble fiber.
5. Helps Sustain High Energy Levels
High performance and endurance athletes find the high fiber element of purple potatoes especially helpful because it provides a time-release effect that helps sustain energy. Runner’s World reports the potato is an excellent source of energy-delivering complex carbohydrates necessary. Easily digestible, the purple potato also helps to prevent low potassium among athletes. The purple potato contains 341 milligrams of potassium per half-cup serving, which is 10 percent of the daily recommended value.
Variety of Purple Potatoes to Grow
Recipes Featuring Purple Potatoes
Roasted Artichokes, Fingerlings, and Purple Potatoes
“Simple seasonings and lemon make these vegetables an ideal accompaniment to any main dish.”
Roasted Garlic Mashed Purple Potatoes
“Roasting garlic and thyme in olive oil infuses them with a heady flavor that makes a luxurious addition to these mashed potatoes. Purple potatoes make a delightful lavender mash.”
Fork Crushed Purple Potatoes
“The purple taters are boiled, peeled, fork-crushed and mixed with shallots, lemon, olive oil, parsley and sea salt. But here’s the coolest part: the lemon juice makes them brighter. All the spots that got hit with the lemon juice became lighter and brighter, more fushia/beet-colored and less purple.”
Rainbow Potato Roast
“Each different type of potato here has its own distinctive flavor and texture as well as color. Some will roast more quickly than others but it doesn’t matter to me if certain pieces in the mix become very soft. My favorite mix here consists of sweet potato, purple potatoes, fingerlings, Yukon golds and red bliss.”
Twice Baked Blues
“These little bursts of flavor are perfect for a game day party or any other gathering where you want to serve hearty finger food. You can make the elements in advance, wrap the unfilled potato halves and the filling separately, and then assemble and broil right before serving. Lots of people like the bite of blue-veined Gorgonzola cheese, but if you’re not the biggest fan (like me), you can substitute feta.” Recipe courtesy of “Eating in Color” by Frances Largemen-Roth.