Purple potatoes may help prevent colon cancer (plus recipe)
01/18/2022 / By Joanne Washburn / Comments
Purple potatoes may help prevent colon cancer (plus recipe)

Sweet purple potatoes may do more than add a pop of color to your plate. These vibrant tubers may also help prevent colon cancer, according to a study by researchers from Pennsylvania State University.

Purple potatoes – a dense and nutty member of the nightshade family (Solanaceae) – are rich in antioxidants, such as phenolic acids and anthocyanins. Past studies have found that these antioxidants possess anticancer potential.

To find out how these tubers affect colon cancer risk, the researchers fed three groups of pigs one of three diets for 13 weeks: a control diet, a high-calorie diet and a high-calorie diet with raw or baked purple potatoes.

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At the end of the experiment, they screened the pigs’ colonic tissue for markers of colon cancer. They found that pigs fed the high-calorie diet had higher levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6), a pro-inflammatory protein known to increase colon cancer risk.

However, pigs fed the high-calorie diet with purple potatoes had IL-6 levels that were six times lower than those of the control group. Both raw and baked purple potatoes had similar effects.

IL-6 levels are linked to levels of other proteins that affect the development and spread of cancer, like Ki-67. Ki-67 is a protein that increases as cells prepare to divide. The expression of Ki-67 is strongly associated with the growth and spread of tumors in the colon, breast and lungs.

Further studies are needed to determine whether the results of the study would hold true in humans. That said, the study’s findings are promising, especially considering how colon cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States.

But colon cancer prevention doesn’t and shouldn’t stop at just eating purple potatoes. Eating other foods rich in essential nutrients, such as protein, vitamins and minerals, could alter the IL-6 pathway and slash colon cancer risk.

More benefits of purple potatoes

If you needed any more motivation to add purple potatoes to your diet, know that their phenolic acid and anthocyanin content may help protect against other health problems, such as heart disease and diabetes. That’s because these compounds help fight chronic inflammation, which is at the root of many chronic conditions.

In a 2015 study, researchers looked at how purple potato extract compared with captopril, a blood pressure medication. They found that the extract significantly improved people’s blood pressure. The extract also increased a high blood pressure-fighting antioxidant called superoxide dismutase in people’s blood.

In another study, researchers wanted to find out how eating whole purple potatoes influenced arterial stiffness, which can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease. Participants in this study were given either 200 grams (g) of purple potato (about one medium-sized potato) or 200 g of white potato.

After two weeks, those who ate purple potatoes had much healthier blood pressure levels than those who ate white potatoes.

Beyond antioxidants, purple potatoes have a lot going for them nutritionally. For starters, they are high in fiber and vitamin C, which can help with weight loss and immunity, respectively. They are also packed with potassium, which also aids in blood pressure regulation.

Recipe for purple potatoes with caramelized onions

Want to give purple potatoes a try? Here’s an easy recipe you can start with. You can enjoy it on its own or have it as a side dish for your meat mains.

Ingredients for 3-4 servings:

  • 1/2 pound purple potatoes, cut into wedges
  • 4 medium-sized shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 small yellow onion, julienned
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1 tablespoon chopped capers
  • 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground black pepper

Preparation:

  1. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan over low heat. Add the sliced onions in an even layer and cook for 5 minutes. Add the butter, stir and add a pinch of kosher salt. Cook for 30 minutes or until evenly browned, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat when finished and set aside.
  2. Heat more oil in another pan. Add the mushrooms and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook until mushrooms brown evenly on one side then flip the mushrooms gently. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. To the same pan used to cook the mushrooms, add 2 tablespoons of oil, then add the potatoes in an even layer. Make sure not to crowd the pan. Season with the red pepper flakes and a pinch of salt. Don’t disturb the potatoes so that they can evenly brown.
  4. After 3-5 minutes, flip the potatoes gently and turn down the heat to medium-low. Once the potatoes are thoroughly cooked, add the capers. Let them crisp up for a minute, then add the onions and mushrooms.
  5. Turn off the heat. Garnish with tarragon and serve.

Purple potatoes are rich in bioactive compounds that have anticancer potential. These compounds also help ward off other chronic diseases, like heart disease and diabetes. If you want to enjoy the benefits of these colorful tubers, incorporate purple potatoes into your diet today.

Sources:

DailyMail.co.uk

BreastCancer.org

ColonCancerCoalition.org

EatingWell.com

SimplyRecipes.com

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