Blackberries, eggplant, and acai berries are all known to be a vibrant purple, but potatoes? If you’ve grown up eating white or yellow potatoes your whole life, purple potatoes might seem weird – until you start adding them to your diet. Not only does their color make any dish more attractive, but they’re also loaded with health-promoting antioxidants, making them a worthy addition to any diet, and especially a plant-based diet.
Are purple potatoes healthier than other potatoes?
Potatoes in general have often been painted as a diet villain, but nothing could be further from the truth. “Potatoes are nutrient-dense vegetables roughly similar in nutritional value,” says RJ Harvey, R.D.N., culinary director for Potatoes USA, a dietitian in Denver, and certified executive chef.
One medium-sized potato with the skin on, no matter what type it is, has about 100 calories, 3 grams of protein – more than most commonly consumed vegetables other than dried beans, Harvey says – and numerous minerals and vitamins, including vitamin C, Vitamin A, potassium, fiber, vitamin B6 and folate.
Purple potatoes are also high in antioxidants called anthocyanins, the pigments that give them their purple hue, Harvey says. These anthocyanins pack unique benefits that other potatoes don’t have.
For starters, a study in Food & Nutrition Research found that anthocyanins can help maintain your vision and prevent diseases like cancer (especially colon cancer, per another study from the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry), diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. In fact, when folks with high blood pressure ate two small helpings of purple potatoes a day, they decreased their blood pressure by about four percent without gaining any weight, per a study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Researchers concluded purple potatoes not only lowered blood pressure but could also decrease the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Purple potatoes may even give your brain a boost. According to a study in the journal Molecules, anthocyanins may also aid cognitive function, possibly helping ward off Alzheimer’s disease.
What’s the best way to use purple potatoes?
Whether you mash them or bake them, treat purple potatoes as you would any other potatoes. Their moist, firm flesh keeps its shape during cooking, making them perfect for steaming or baking. The surprise, though? “Their color is best preserved by microwaving,” Harvey says.
Just expect a distinctly nutty flavor when you add them to dishes. That’s why Harvey says they’re a perfect complement to green salads. Or combine them with white and red potatoes in salads or roasted medleys to make all three colors pop.
What recipes can I make with purple potatoes?
Use purple potatoes anywhere you would regular potatoes. And to get you started, here are four recipes from Potatoes USA:
Bottom Line: Start adding purple potatoes to your dishes for maximum nutrition
Whether you like your potatoes mashed, roasted, steamed, or baked – any white or yellow potatoes pale in comparison to the number of antioxidants and nutrients you get from purple potatoes. Once you switch to purple your old white potatoes will seem rather dull in comparison, and you’ll get hooked on the amazing health benefits of purple potatoes.