The Verdict on gold, red, & purple potatoes

Image Credit: orchidgalore/ Flickr

What is the healthiest potato?

What’s the verdict on gold, red & purple potatoes?

Ionestamot / Originally posted in Toxins in Cooked Potatoes?


The healthiest potatoes are probably sweet potatoes (see my video about sweet potatoes), but if you are going to eat plain potatoes, the varieties with colored flesh (not just skin) do appear healthier.

new study published this month found that the consumption of 6-8 microwaved purple potatoes a day (they’re pretty small) resulted in a boost in antioxidant capacity of the blood (whereas the plain potato starch control acted as a pro-oxidant) and a drop in blood pressure in overweight individuals. “Thus,” they concluded, “purple potatoes are an effective hypotensive agent and lower the risk of heart disease and stroke in hypertensive subjects without weight gain.”

Last year a study found that purple potatoes appeared to suppress both early and late stage human colon cancer cells in vitro, but only if they were fresh. After being in storage a few months their anti-cancer properties diminished.

Finally, another study published last year (and this one available full-text), found a trend towards lower inflammation in men eating purple potatoes than white, concluding “Pigmented potato consumption reduced inflammation and DNA damage in healthy adult males. This offers consumers an improved nutritional choice in potato consumption.”  See my video Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Purple Potatoes.

Purple sweet potatoes may offer the best of both worlds, as suggested in an in vitro study last year on human fat cells that suggested anti-obesity, anti-oxidant, and anti-inflammatory benefits.

Image Credit: orchidgalore / Flickr


Michael Greger M.D., FACLM

Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial.

28 responses to “What is the healthiest potato?

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  1. What about raw white potatoes? I would not normally eat a raw sweet potatoes but it’s common to munch a raw white potatoes. So, it’s still a harmful food when uncooked, which is your rating on a different video for baked potatoes. (What about steamed?)

    1. Mcdougall is to be commended for pointing out the ill effects of animal foods ,however , his directives do not consider the lastest research. Many of his examples are from his mentor and nearly 80 decades old. The lastest researcher ported by Dr Greger is about UPTIMAL eating for UPTIMAL health. mcDougle’s low nutrient starch based diet may be able to sustain populations but the newest research provides knowledge for UPTIMAL health and longjevity. Take for instance !this new research showing the value of purple potatoes over white.

        1. …adding to that here, my understanding too, is that the Japanese tribe mountain folk live to well over 100 and its because of their potatoes.

  2. If you could only eat one food the rest of your life better make it potatoes. Potatoes contain all the vitamins and minerals your body needs, meaning you could survive on an all potato diet. The garlic and onions in the recipe add
    cancer-fighting power, the
    spices provide antioxidants,and the beans contribute molybdenum, folate, fiber (nearly 15 grams per cup) and protein (also 15 grams) in addition to reducing blood pressure, inflammation, and lowering body weight. Make this for breakfast, lunch, or dinner or enjoy as a healthy snack.

    Hashing It Out

    – 2-3 large onions, thinly sliced
    – 3 lbs organic* potatoes, peeled and cubed
    – 4 cups cooked^ black beans
    – 3 large tomatoes, chopped
    – 3 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
    – 1 tbsp thyme
    – 1 tsp cilantro
    – 1 tsp basil
    – 1 tsp marjoram
    – ¼ tsp black pepper
    – Sea salt

    Crush and mince garlic then set aside. Cook onions in a dry, uncovered skillet over medium heat until soft and caramelized, 30-35 minutes. Cook potatoes in a separate, dry and covered skillet over high heat for a couple minutes. Turn heat down to low, add tomatoes and continue cooking, while stirring occasionally, until potatoes tender. Add beans, garlic, spices, and caramelized onions. Season to taste with sea salt.

    *Potatoes rank 10th (up from 12th last year) in the “dirty dozen: 12 foods to eat
    organic” so choose organic.

    ^If using canned beans select those packaged in BPA-free cans such as Eden Organic brand.

    Bookmark my new Plant-Based Emporium Facebook page for all my latest recipes.

    ~Complements of lovestobevegan

  3. In the first study you cite, purple potatoes were compared with refined starch as cooked biscuits and not white/yellow potatoes.
    In the last study, participants consumed a total of 150 g/d of cooked potato for 6 wk. One small potato per day is an inadequate intervention and thus can’t produce reliable results. However, you failed to mention that yellow potatoes were almost equally beneficial.
    I see a bias against white/yellow potatoes. Don’t let it get in the way. You can do better. Let it go. All potatoes are low in calorie density and high in nutrient density and satiety (actually by far the most filling food). They are an excellent choice for health and longevity.

    1. What I learned from these potato vids is to choose purple, don’t store for a long time, and peel them. And of course ,sweet potatoes are a great choice. Buying purple , for me, will be letting the potato industry know to grow less white potatoes.

    1. Fat loss is best accomplished by consuming foods with lower energy density or calorie density. All potatoes unless processed or cooked with higher energy density foods such as oils meet this criteria. Exercise is important component as regular exercise tends to suppress appetite and increase metabolism. I have found “cronometer” to be a useful free website for calculating calorie density. You can search for a specific food in this case potato and select the specific food of interest. By changing the serving size to “454” (i.e the number of grams per pound) and the serving to “g” you will get calories/pound. So you get respectively, sweet potatoes(390), red potatoes(404) and baked potatoes(422). So all potatoes are similar but given these three the sweet potatoes would be the best choice. However if you take the potato and cut into strips and place in a fryer with any oil, that are 4000 calories/pound you get fast food french fries at 1466 or restaurant fries at 1290… no longer a good approach to fat loss. For reference table sugar and protein are at 1800 cal/pound. The lower numbers are achieved by the presence of water and fiber. Starches are not a problem for folks trying to loss weight. Carbs come in many forms. The best presentation I have seen that ties this all together is Jeff Novick’s presentation, Calorie Density: Eat more, weigh less and live longer.
      Hope this is helpful.

  4. I still think it could be a bit reductionist taking potatoes out because of one compound although agree that sweet potatoes are better. I’d be more inclined to take pasta and bread out before potatoes

  5. I am also a bit confused as some others have mentioned here. Someone is telling me white potatoes are bad. I know own from Dr Greger’s videos that purple potatoes are the best, but are white potatoes harmful or just not optimal?

    1. Jean Hayes: I am not an expert, but I’ll take a stab at answering this question.
      I would say that it’s a somewhat controversial subject and a matter of “bad relative to what”? The main problem I have heard listed about white potatoes is that they have a pretty high glycemic index (GI) (eating it raises your blood sugars pretty high). Sweet potatoes on the other hand, don’t do that as much. Now, I would say that the GI is just one factor to consider when weighing the “badness” or “goodness” of a food. Other people, however, put extreme weight on the GI and believe that the GI of a food is the primary consideration one should use when evaluating a food. Thus, some people would say that white potatoes are bad for you just for that reason.
      Not everyone feels that way, though. Dr. McDougall, a well respected plant based doctor feels that white potatoes are a perfectly healthy food. So, I’m not the only person that considers the GI as only one aspect of a food to use in weighing it’s healthfulness.
      But that’s not the whole story. As Dr. Greger points out on this page and in videos, potatoes with colored flesh has a whole lot of antioxidants that are lacking in sweet potatoes. As a result, the colored potatoes, like the purple fleshed potatoes, seem to have health benefits over the white potatoes.
      My summary is: white potatoes impact your blood sugar levels worse and don’t have as many nutrients as the colored potatoes. That’s two strikes. On the other hand white potatoes do have some good nutrients in them and at least one entire culture has thrived off of white potatoes in the past.
      I can see your brow wrinkling in frustration right now. I imagine thinking: But does that make white potatoes bad or not! Get to the point already. So, here’s the point: Eating is (generally) a zero sum game. For every calorie you eat, there is a calorie from another food that you not eating. White potatoes are not nearly as healthy as purple potatoes. So, if you are eating white potatoes in place of purple potatoes, then the white is not very healthy for you. You could be doing a whole lot better. On the other hand, if you are eating steamed white potatoes in place of French fries or potato chips, yeah you! My recommendation is to eat sweet and colored potatoes when you can. Eat white when the other options are not available or to provide some variety.
      FYI: I thought I would never get to eat a purple potato. Then one day I saw them at my local health food store. They were not only purple, but purple sweet potatoes, the absolute best! They are seasonal. Start looking for them around now or next month I think.
      Does that help at all?

      1. I am not so worried about the glycemic index, and I don’t want to stray away from the big picture of whole food plant-based eating and get too focused on details, however, if white potatoes are not just as healthy as purple sweet potatoes, but are truly harmful, I would try to avoid them. Thea– I just found this video and love Dr Greger’s commonsense answer when potatostrong asked him about white potatoes. As you say, it’s relative. Thanks for taking time to reply!!

        1. Jean Hayes: Fantastic find! Thanks for sharing that link. That’s an interview I hadn’t seen yet. Hey, looks like I was channeling Dr. Greger pretty good when I replied to you. :-) Have a great day.

  6. What about freeze dried potatoes? Peru has a frost resistant variety called Chuño. How would the nutrients fare in the freeze drying process?

    1. Mitch, if you (or anyone?) could share some science on the microwave concerns Id appreciate it. Thanks.

      (I realize this is not a potato question)

  7. Hi, Mitch! You’re right, sweet potatoes are not potatoes. Dr. Greger was not referring to botanical classification, but to common names in the post above, since we do call them sweet potatoes. I personally do not like using a microwave oven (I don’t own one) because I don’t like the way it affects the texture of foods. Dr. Greger does not believe using a microwave oven is unsafe. According to this video, microwave cooking may preserve some nutrients compared to other cooking methods. That said, the cited study used microwave cooking, which is why it was mentioned in the post. I hope that helps!

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