Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Purple Potatoes

Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Purple Potatoes
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Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory properties of white compared to yellow and purple potatoes. Purple potatoes may also help lower high blood pressure.

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From a recent review on diet and inflammation by Dr. Leo Galland, who, when I was a kid, actually used to be my doctor: “Inflammation has recently emerged as an important aspect of the development of age-related infirmity and the major chronic diseases of industrialized societies,…heart disease,…diabetes, Alzheimer’s…,and…cancer.” And we have markers of inflammation now, like C-reactive protein, which are easy to measure, and give a sense of how much inflammation there is in our bodies, which is predictive for the development of some of these diseases.  

We know plant-based foods in general have anti-inflammatory effects—particularly fruits and vegetables—but not all plant foods. From a 2010 review, extra virgin olive oil decreases inflammatory markers compared to corn oil, or non-virgin oil. Tomato juice helps, but raw tomatoes don’t appear to. Walnuts, red wine, and flax meal work; garlic powder doesn’t. Mixed data on tea, but sweet cherries do seem to decrease inflammation.

There have since been a few new studies to add to this list; one showing that those eating just four servings of legumes a week—lentils, chickpeas, peas, beans—dropped C-reactive protein levels a whopping 40% in two months. 

And then, apparently, the first study ever to address the effects of potato consumption on oxidation and inflammation in humans was published. And not just any potatoes; there’s all sorts of new varieties out there.

First, though, they looked at regular potatoes, white russet potatoes. One steamed potato a day for six weeks. Inflammation, as measured by C-reactive protein levels in the blood, tended to go up. Next, potatoes with yellow flesh did a bit better. But neither were significantly different than baseline. Only purple potatoes, potatoes with purple flesh, significantly decreased inflammation.

And the same thing was found for oxidation. In this 2012 study, within hours of consumption, purple potatoes increased the antioxidant capacity of one’s bloodstream, whereas white potato starch appeared to have a pro-oxidant effect.

And purple potatoes also appeared to help lower blood pressure in folks with hypertension. They put people on six to eight small microwaved purple potatoes a day, and concluded “purple potatoes are an effective hypotensive agent and lower the risk of heart disease and stroke in hypertensive subjects without weight gain.”

Combined with the reduction in inflammation and DNA damage, purple potatoes offer “consumers an improved nutritional choice in potato consumption.”

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Serena.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Fir0002 via Wikimedia Commons, and Peggy Greb.

From a recent review on diet and inflammation by Dr. Leo Galland, who, when I was a kid, actually used to be my doctor: “Inflammation has recently emerged as an important aspect of the development of age-related infirmity and the major chronic diseases of industrialized societies,…heart disease,…diabetes, Alzheimer’s…,and…cancer.” And we have markers of inflammation now, like C-reactive protein, which are easy to measure, and give a sense of how much inflammation there is in our bodies, which is predictive for the development of some of these diseases.  

We know plant-based foods in general have anti-inflammatory effects—particularly fruits and vegetables—but not all plant foods. From a 2010 review, extra virgin olive oil decreases inflammatory markers compared to corn oil, or non-virgin oil. Tomato juice helps, but raw tomatoes don’t appear to. Walnuts, red wine, and flax meal work; garlic powder doesn’t. Mixed data on tea, but sweet cherries do seem to decrease inflammation.

There have since been a few new studies to add to this list; one showing that those eating just four servings of legumes a week—lentils, chickpeas, peas, beans—dropped C-reactive protein levels a whopping 40% in two months. 

And then, apparently, the first study ever to address the effects of potato consumption on oxidation and inflammation in humans was published. And not just any potatoes; there’s all sorts of new varieties out there.

First, though, they looked at regular potatoes, white russet potatoes. One steamed potato a day for six weeks. Inflammation, as measured by C-reactive protein levels in the blood, tended to go up. Next, potatoes with yellow flesh did a bit better. But neither were significantly different than baseline. Only purple potatoes, potatoes with purple flesh, significantly decreased inflammation.

And the same thing was found for oxidation. In this 2012 study, within hours of consumption, purple potatoes increased the antioxidant capacity of one’s bloodstream, whereas white potato starch appeared to have a pro-oxidant effect.

And purple potatoes also appeared to help lower blood pressure in folks with hypertension. They put people on six to eight small microwaved purple potatoes a day, and concluded “purple potatoes are an effective hypotensive agent and lower the risk of heart disease and stroke in hypertensive subjects without weight gain.”

Combined with the reduction in inflammation and DNA damage, purple potatoes offer “consumers an improved nutritional choice in potato consumption.”

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Serena.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Fir0002 via Wikimedia Commons, and Peggy Greb.

Doctor's Note

For more on anti-inflammatory foods, see Garden Variety Anti-Inflammation and Anti-Inflammatory Antioxidants. For more on choosing the foods with the most antioxidant power, check out Antioxidant Power of Plant Foods Versus Animal Foods. Then for other foods that may help tame high blood pressure, Hearts Shouldn’t Skip a Beet and Fill in the Blank. What about the Toxins in Cooked Potatoes? Or the Toxins in Sweet Potatoes?, which are are indeed better, and purple sweet potatoes are the best of the best. These are the only ones I’ve tried, but they are fantastic. See my other videos on purple sweets.

We know plant-based diets decrease markers of inflammation, but do all these anti-inflammatory plant foods actually have an impact on inflammatory disease mortality? Check out Fighting Inflammation in a Nut Shell.

For further context, check out my associated blog posts: How Does Meat Cause Inflammation?Treating Crohn’s Disease With DietLead Poisoning Risk From Venison, and Mushrooms and Immunity.

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