America's favorite vegetable is almost fat free and a good source of potassium, iron, and vitamin C. It has 3 grams each of protein and fiber, low sodium, and no cholesterol, and costs a quarter per serving at the produce aisle.
If you haven't guessed which vegetable yet, it's only going to get harder. Agricultural Research Service scientists have bred and released colorful new varieties. Some have relatively high levels of beneficial red-to-purple pigments called "anthocyanins," and others have high levels of yellow-pigmented carotenoids.
We're talking about the popular potato. ARS researchers have developed three new varieties of potatoes with red and purple flesh and skin, which are now available to consumers. If you can get the new varieties soon, you'll have colorful potatoes gracing your holiday dinner table. See the box on page 15 for information on availability.
What's In a Color?
All potatoes contain an assortment of nutrients and other health-promoting compounds. The colored-flesh potatoes have anthocyanins and carotenoids. The amount and type depend on the variety of the potato. Breeding efforts by ARS researchers in Beltsville, Maryland, led to the release of yellow-pigmented potatoes with up to three times more carotenoids than a yellow-fleshed imported variety.
As the most-eaten U.S. vegetable, phytonutrient-rich potatoes can have a strong impact on health, according to plant geneticist Charles Brown, who is with ARS in Prosser, Washington. In a study, Brown and his colleagues analyzed and compared concentrations of phytochemicals in yellow- and purple-pigmented potatoes and in white potatoes. The team reported that yellow potatoes had a 45-fold greater concentration of carotenoids than white potatoes, and purple potatoes had a 20-fold...