Fitness

Why eating this starchy, carb-loaded potato could actually save your life

Adding this particular potato to your diet may significantly reduce your risk of colon cancer.

By Bettina Tyrrell
Our favourite type of health study is one that links much-loved carbohydrate, the potato, to seriously positive health benefits. And that is exactly what we have here!
Of course you've heard the reasoning why we should embrace the sweet potato over the standard white potato, but now there’s another science-approved potato that we should be adding to our shopping lists: the purple potato.
As reported by the UK’s Daily Mail, new research indicates that a diet including purple potatoes may decrease your risk of developing colon cancer.
In a study of pigs, researchers found that supplementing a high-calorie diet with purple potatoes led to a reduction in levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6) - a pro-inflammatory protein that studies have shown can promote colon cancer.
The study's co-author Jairam K.P. Vanamala, a professor of food sciences at Pennsylvania State University in State College, and colleagues say that their results support previous research that claims that plant-based diets are linked to lower colon cancer risk.
The team also said that understanding how these food compounds work at a molecular level could lead to new drugs for cancer and other potentially fatal conditions.

So, what is a purple potato?

In Australia, we call the starchy veg a Purple 'Congo' Potato. Its lumpy outward appearance may dissuade some from adding it to their trolley, but the inside of the potato is a vibrant purple that makes an impressive addition to a dish, like the barbecue classic: potato salad.
As with many colourful fruits and vegetables, purple potatoes contain beneficial nutrients at significantly higher levels than their white-fleshed counterparts.
"Specifically, purple-fleshed potatoes are rich in phenolic acids and anthocyanins," the researchers said.
"White potatoes may have helpful compounds, but the purple potatoes have much greater concentrations of these anti-inflammatory, antioxidant compounds."
In Australia Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer. In 2017, it is estimated that 16,682 new cases of colorectal cancer will be diagnosed.
Other studies have suggested that dietary changes - like reducing meat consumption and increasing the intake of grains, fruits, and vegetables - can help to lower the risk of colon cancer. And what Professor Vanamala and team have found, expands on these findings.
"What we are learning is that food is a double-edge sword - it may promote disease, but it may also help prevent chronic diseases, like colon cancer," said Professor Vanamala.
"What we don't know is, 'how does this food work on the molecular level?' This study is a step in that direction."