Purple sweet potato – the new superfood?

by Lucy Halfhead

Sweet potato - Health News - Marie Claire

A purple sweet potato is being developed as the new superfood, with scientists saying the vegetable may stop people from getting cancer.
 
An expert in the US has developed the variety of sweet potato with a thick purple skin and flesh to increase its cancer-fighting properties. The designer sweet potato, grown for its anti-cancer purple pigment, is also said to contain anti-ageing and antioxidant chemicals.

Soyoung Lim, a researcher from Kansas State University, said that it differed to purple varieties already in the shops because both flesh and skin were purple. She said the colouring contained the chemical anthocyanin, which lowers the risk of cancer and could even slow down certain types of the disease.

‘The colour is the important part because the purple colour is responsible for the amount of anthocyanin in the potato,’ she said.

Scientists used two strands of anthocyanin to treat colon cancer and found the pigment slowed down the growth of cancerous cells. Anthocyanin, which produces red, blue or purple colours in different food, can also be found in blueberries, red grapes and red cabbage.

Dr Weiqun Wang, who helped test the potato, said the potato tasted sweeter than other potatoes but was still perfectly edible. ‘It's good not only for cancer prevention but other benefits like antioxidants as well,’ he said.

The high-concentration purple sweet potato is due for clinical trials next year.

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