A new international study shows purple potatoes may help prevent colon cancer
Potatoes are one of the most popular vegetables in the world. They are the go-to side veggie for most meals in the western world, from fast food lunches to five-star exotic suppers at the world’s top restaurants. One billion people consume potatoes every day amounting to a total worldwide consumption of well over a half a trillion pounds per year. Not all of these potatoes are served up in the most healthy way, A good amount of them are deep fried, lathered with fatty sauces and cheese or in the form of a chip or crisp. As a result the potato has gotten a bad rap from health enthusiasts and fitness freaks.
But the utilitarian potato is, in its basic form, an incredibly healthy food. Baked or boiled, grilled or steamed with some light seasoning and you’ve got a side dish that is packed with a lot of nutrition. A serving of potato will give you half your daily allowance of vitamin C and has more potassium than a banana. And if that potato is purple, you are going to get some added benefits that may help you fight off cancer.
A recent study of international researchers led by scholars at Penn State University found that the various micronutrients in purple potatoes go after and destroy stem cells associated with colon cancer. Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States according to statistics from Center for Disease Control (CDC).
The researchers on the study fed pigs baked purple potatoes (they wanted to make sure the beneficial nutrients were not destroyed during cooking) in a relatively high fat diet and compared that to pigs with similar diets without the potatoes. The pigs that got the potatoes had six times lower level of an inflammatory protein that is associated with promoting the growth and spread of cancer cells. This protein is known as IL-6 and there are very expensive drugs being used to suppress it.
But the researchers in this latest study hope that thier work will add to growing mountain of evidence that fresh fruits and veggies are the best antidote to the diseases that plague our modern world.
“Instead of promoting a pill, we can promote fruits and vegetables that are very rich in anti-inflammatory compounds to counter the growing problem of chronic disease,” said Jairam K.P. Vanamala, associate professor of food sciences, Penn State and one of the authors of the report.
The researchers were also quick to point out that it’s not just purple potatoes that can have this effect, but rather those anti-oxidants and phytonutrients that make them purple. Jairam Vanamala suggests eating a wide-variety of colorful vegetables and fruits may help treat chronic diseases such as colon cancer and type-2 diabetes. These plants, including the purple potato, contain bioactive compounds, such as anthocyanins and phenolic acids, that have been linked to cancer prevention.
“When you eat from the rainbow…,” Vanamala says, “we are not providing just one compound, we are providing a wide variety of compounds, thousands of them, that work on multiple pathways and causes self destruction of cancer stem cells.”
The authors of the study feel their work is another piece of evidence that a diet that is rich in plant-based foods and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables is the critically important in preventing cancer.
So “Eat the Rainbow!” Fill you plate with ½ to ¾ vegetables at every meal and see how much better you feel while you extend your long healthy life.