While the humble sweet potato has long been heralded as one of the healthiest foods on the market, there’s another carbohydrate you might want to consider putting on your shopping list.
Not only does the purple potato add a pop of colour to your plate, it also packs powerful colorectal cancer-fighting properties, according to new research from Pennsylvania State University.
In a study on pigs published in The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, it was found that supplementing a high-calorie diet with the vibrant veg led to a reduction in levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6) – a protein known to fuel tumours and other inflammatory bowel diseases.
“Specifically, purple-fleshed potatoes are rich in phenolic acids and anthocyanins,” the researchers explained.
“White potatoes may have helpful compound, but the purple potatoes have much greater concentrations of these anti-inflammatory, antioxidant compounds.”
The study’s co-author Jairam K.P Vanamala, a professor of food sciences at PSU, says these results support previous research that plant-based diets can lower the risk of cancer.
“Ancient wisdom, as well as modern evidence, suggests plant-based diets can potentially prevent a variety of chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and even cancer,” Vanamala explained.
“When you ‘eat from the rainbow’, like red grapes, purple potatoes, green broccoli, we are not providing one compound, we are providing a wide variety of compounds, thousands of them, that work on multiple pathways, and cause the self-destruction of cancer stem cells.”
Colorectal cancer (also known as bowel cancer) is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia, behind prostate cancer and breast cancer. It’s estimated that 16,682 people will be diagnosed with the disease in 2017 alone.