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Researchers develop natural purple and red, anthocyanin-rich potatoes


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(NaturalNews) Scientists from the Agricultural Research Service in Beltsville, Maryland, have used conventional, non-genetic engineering techniques to produce three new varieties of potato that are exceptionally high in antioxidants. Both the skin and flesh of the potatoes are red, purple or yellow.

Some of the new varieties are particularly high in carotenoids, which give foods yellow or orange colors, while others are high in anthocyanins, responsible for red, blue and purple pigmentation. All the varieties are suitable for cultivation in the United States and can be used in a wide variety of culinary functions.

Anthocyanins and carotenoids are among the antioxidants that have been linked to a wide variety of health benefits, such as reducing the risk of chronic diseases. The concentrations of these chemicals vary naturally among different potato varieties. In developing the new varieties, researchers focused on boosting antioxidant content specifically. For example, one of the new yellow varieties has three times the carotenoid content of an imported yellow variety that it was tested against.

Potatoes are an excellent source of a wide variety of nutrients, including potassium, iron, vitamin C and fiber.

Versatile varieties

Three of the new potato varieties are already available on the market for human consumption: TerraRosa, AmaRosa and Purple Fiesta (also known as Purple Pelisse). The properties of the latter two varieties were described in the American Journal of Potato Research in 2012.

AmaRosa is a long, thin "fingerling" potato with bright-red flesh and smooth, bright-red skin. Purple Fiesta is also a fingerling, but with dark-purple flesh and purple skin.

"Purple Fiesta has ranked better in taste, color, and nutrition than any other blue or purple potato I've explored," said Dan Chin, who holds the exclusive license to grow and sublicense the variety and its seed. "These varieties were carefully bred to enhance all the unique qualities found in a colorful potato, including uniform size, striking color, rich vitamin and mineral content, sweet flavor, and versatility."

TerraRosa is a full-sized oblong potato with red skin. Its flesh is pinkish, sometimes with marbling, and is sweet and creamy.

All three varieties performed well in a variety of cooking methods including roasting, baking, steaming, mashing, microwaving and frying.

"One of the sensory evaluations ranked AmaRosa highest among 10 contenders when prepared as fried chips," Brown said. "The chips retained their rosy red color and resisted fading."

Nutritionally rich

The nutritional benefits of the potatoes have been described in two published studies. In a study published in the journal Food and Nutrition Sciences in 2013, the developers found that the new purple and red varieties contained 20 times the anthocyanin content of yellow potatoes, while the new yellow varieties contained 45 times the carotenoid content of white potatoes. Consumers reported no differences in flavor between the varieties.

The other study, published in the American Journal of Advanced Food Science and Technology in 2013, found that participants who consumed the yellow- or purple-fleshed potatoes for six weeks showed significantly lower levels of inflammation relative to those who ate white-fleshed potatoes. Immune function was higher in those who ate yellow potatoes.

The exceptional antioxidant content of the potatoes -- developed through conventional breeding and preserved regardless of cooking method -- belies the claims of the genetically modified (GM) food industry that GM crops are the key to boosting nutrient intake and reducing chronic diseases.

"The development of purple anthocyanin-rich non-GM potatoes will make Prof Cathie Martin's anthocyanin-rich GM tomato all the more unlikely to be welcomed by the food industry and consumers," commented the website GMWatch.

"The GM tomatoes have not been properly tested for toxicity in animals," GMWatch added.





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