Did you know…a “Hot” potato prized in Ancient Peru may be key to curing cancer?
In the 16th century, the Inca people ruled most of South America from their mountain capital in Cusco, Peru. To manage this vast territory, the Incan empire cultivated fighting skills, endurance, and strength. “Clearly, they benefited from good nutrition,” said Manuel Villacorta, award-winning dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and founder of Eating Free.
Now, according to the most recent laboratory research, a prized Inca food—purple potatoes—may be essential to curing cancer.
Four Times the Antioxidant Potential
Potatoes were the building blocks of the Inca diet—and Peru is home to more than 3,000 varieties! The royal-hued purple potato, however, is the undisputed king of them all. The popular and highly regarded Dr. Mehmet Oz claims that in ancient Peru, purple potatoes nutrition were reserved for royalty. And USDA measurements show that these dark potatoes have 4 times more antioxidant potential than the average potato.
Purple potatoes nutrition score as highly on the antioxidant scale as well-known powerhouse foods like kale and spinach. Purple potatoes are also a great source of:
- Complex carbohydrates
- Vitamin C
- Folic acid
But perhaps the most important nutritional compound in purple potatoes one you’ve never heard about: flaminoids.
Cancer Fighters Extraordinaire
The substance responsible for the rich purple color of the potatoes—as well as some other foods of that same color—belong to a family of natural chemicals called flaminoids. And flaminoids have powerful anti-cancer effects.
Soyoung Lim, a Kansas State University researcher, is convinced that purple foods—and specifically purple potatoes nutrition —can fight cancer. He says that flaminoids and related compounds are associated with a reduced cancer risk, “anti-cancer ability of the purple sweet potato has not been well investigated.”
Lim is working to change that. Preliminary results indicate that darker the pigment of a potato, the higher the amount of anti-cancer compounds it contains. Aside from fighting cancer, flaminoids also:
- Protect the heart
- Stimulate the immune system
- Prevent age-related memory loss
Just How “Good” Can a Purple Potato Be?
Worried that purple potatoes are another one of those “good for you, but taste just awful” foods? Don’t be! “These potatoes are delicious,” raves Manuel Villacorta. This nutritionally dense superfood is starting to crop up in North American supermarkets; so if you spy one, don’t hesitate out of fear for your taste buds.
Thousands of varieties of purple potatoes are now grown in the U.S., so they are available year-round, but less widely from January through April.