Most of us are used to seeing and eating the typical white or yellow fleshed potatoes. You may even eat sweet potatoes on a regular basis and so you might be accustomed to orange as well. But purple potatoes are certainly not as popular, although given the deep rich color of these potatoes, more of us should be familiar with these potatoes for the powerful nutrients they pack.
Native to South America, purple potatoes got their name due to their deep purple skin and flesh. There are several types of the purple potato including the Purple Majesty, Purple Viking and Purple Peruvian varieties. Purple potatoes are rich in antioxidant phytochemicals and studies show that purple potatoes can aid in lowering blood pressure.
As with any fruit or vegetable, the deep rich colors they offer tell us how nutrient dense they are. When choosing which vegetables to add to our diet, a mix of colors is always a good rule of thumb to be sure we are getting a variety of nutrients to meet our bodies needs. Purple potatoes follow right along with this concept as the purple characteristic tell us that they are rich in a powerful antioxidant called anthocyanin. Coming from the flavonoid family of antioxidants, anthocyanin is best known for boosting the immune system and fighting cancer. You can also find this antioxidant in blueberries and pomegranates.
Another great benefit to anthocyanin is its ability to protect the integrity and structure of DNA and encourage the production of cytokines which are key in promoting proper immune response. If that isn’t enough, this powerful antioxidant also has anti-inflammatory properties, helps to protect the health and integrity of the capillaries and strengthens membranes. It may also play a role in regulating estrogenic activity which helps to lower the risk of hormone-related disease.
Lowering Blood Pressure
A study presented at the 2012 American Chemical Society National Meeting in Denver, Colorado showed that consuming purple potatoes lowered the blood pressure of the subjects who were eating them compared to subjects that were not. The effects on blood pressure are likely associated with the potatoes therapeutic effect on the capillaries and blood vessels as previously mentioned. It is also likely that purple potato’s feature a high concentration of another phytochemical called chlorogenic acid which has been linked to lowering blood pressure in mice.
Flavour & Cooking
Many of us love white potatoes and are accustomed to the texture and flavor they offer. Does the purple potato trade off any flavor or texture for the nutrient density? Not at all! The purple potato tastes very much like the standard white-fleshed potatoes and is said to be slightly creamier in texture.
When cooking purple potatoes, as with any other potatoes, try to keep the skin on and remember to cook them in the healthiest ways possible. keeping the skin on helps to keep moisture in the potato and is packed full of nutrients. The skin of the purple potato is rich in vitamin C and contains a lot of the polyphenols and potassium that makes it so beneficial. Baking and steaming are often the best methods of preparation and good clean oils like coconut oil are recommended if you are frying. Then again, you can always just take a bite straight out of one of these much like you would if you were eating an apple!
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