Former Entertainment Tonight host John Tesh has come out on Twitter with a very specific health tip: get more antioxidants by eating purple potatoes.
Purple isn’t normally a color people associate with healthy vegetables (except maybe eggplants) but Tesh’s advice is quite sound.
Purple potatoes are native to South America and the name is extremely appropriate since both the skin and even the inner flesh is a nice, dark purple. They also come with fun names like the Purple Viking! As with all vegetables, the purple color comes from various phytochemicals and flavonoids, with each color coming from different mixes.
The deeper the color, the more phytochemicals present and the bigger impact they have on your health. For purple potatoes, this impact takes the form of an immense number of antioxidants.
How Healthy Are Purple Potatoes?
One thing John Tesh didn’t say (or couldn’t say due to character limits) was that purple potatoes have gotten some scientific scrutiny with promising results. For instance, a small 2012 study found that hypertensive, fasting, people who were given six to eight microwaved purple potatoes (with skin) twice a day for a month showed a 3.5% to 4.3% drop in blood pressure.
The most impressive part is that this effect seemed to compliment their existing blood pressure medication and, in case you were worried about carbs, their weight didn’t go up either. Another study, this one in mice, found that the specific antioxidants in purple potatoes (anthocyanins) were able to protect the liver against the oxidative stress from alcohol.
Of course, John Tesh does get one thing slightly wrong when he says purple potatoes taste the same as red ones. Although the taste is largely comparable, there have been those who note purple potatoes as having a nuttier flavor and creamier texture. This actually makes purple potatoes excellent for making mashed dishes, although any other use (frying, baking, etc.) is perfectly fine too.
Since the antioxidants of the purple potato are found mostly in the skin, it’s important to keep that part on during cooking. This helps seal nutrients and moisture in as an added bonus and the skin is a great source of dietary fiber and vitamin C to boot.
Sources for Today’s Article:
John Tesh, Twitter post. March 30, 2016, 9:10 a.m. https://twitter.com/JohnTesh/status/715209531714846721. Last accessed March 31, 2016.
Norek, D., “Purple potatoes pack serious antioxidants compared to their white-fleshed counterparts,” Natural News web site, August 5, 2013; http://www.naturalnews.com/041491_purple_potatoes_antioxidants_nutrition.html, last accessed March 31, 2016.
Jiang, Z., et. al. “Purple potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) anthocyanins attenuate alcohol-induced hepatic injury by enhancing antioxidant defense,” Journal of Natural Medicine, 2015; 10.1007/s11418-015-0935-3.
Vinson, J., et. al., “High-antioxidant potatoes: acute in vivo antioxidant source and hypotensive agent in humans after supplementation to hypertensive subjects,” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2012; 10.1021/jf2045262