Meat’s best friend, the potato, is changing it up to meet the needs of health-driven consumers. Just as there are a variety of healthier protein choices these days, there’s a crop of new healthier potatoes showing up that you may want to try.
The Purple Potato
They’re here and they’re real, and they come in several varieties: Purple Viking (wonder if Minnesota football fans had a hand in naming that one!), Purple Majesty, and Purple Peruvian potatoes are now available at your local grocery or farmer’s market.
Although we’re not sure if this is one of Barney’s favorite side dishes, we can tell you that purple potatoes are real…and they’re spectacular! With a nutritional profile very close to the popular Russet Burbank potato, purple potatoes are about 70 calories per ½ cup serving with 15 grams of carbs and no fat. The one significant difference between purple potatoes and Russet potatoes is the antioxidant content; purple potatoes contain 4 times as many antioxidants as Russet potatoes! Anthocyanin is a pigment that creates the purple color in the potatoes and also acts as an antioxidant.
All potatoes are naturally high in potassium, which helps regulate blood pressure. But the extra antioxidants in purple potatoes make them even more effective than other potato varieties. The purple potato was recently mentioned by the popular Dr. Oz. He claims that purple potatoes can help lower your blood pressure. He even mentioned that you could make purple potato chips!
Prepping and Cooking Tips
These vibrant spuds have a medium-to-starchy texture, which works well for many recipes. And leave the skin on! Not only will it add a nice pop of color to your potato salads, but their purple wrapper contains many of the nutritional benefits of this tasty tater.
A Lower Carb Potato
EarthFresh Farms of Ontario, Canada, proudly presents the Carisma potato in their Nutri Spud line. Offering more than just charm and good looks, the Carisma potato has a lower glycemic response. This means it doesn’t cause the rapid spike in blood sugar that normally comes from eating carbohydrate-rich foods.
“The nice thing about having a potato that’s low glycemic index is that people lately have become more careful about the type of carbohydrate that they consume, and potatoes sort of have been given a bad rap because it’s considered like a white starch,” says Joanne Lewis, director of nutrition and diabetes education with the Canadian Diabetes Association in Toronto, in an article on FreshPlaza.us.
The non-GMO Carisma potato originated in The Netherlands, where it’s been available—as well as in Australia—for the last five years. This variety provides a healthy choice with an exceptional rich, melt in the mouth, creamy flavor. We’re glad to see it’s made its way to North America.
And if you can’t find fresh purple potatoes you can still get all the nutrition through a new powder version from Suncore Foods. Its Organic Purple Potato Supercolor Powder is an easy way to add gorgeous purple (looks almost neon purple) color, plant-based nutrition to your favorite foods. Think smoothies, cupcakes, pasta, cake and protein shakes. A 5 oz. pouch of the shelf-stable powder goes a long way. A serving size is defined as 1 teaspoon with 36 servings in each pouch.
The Sweet Potato
We’d be remiss not to mention the huge popularity of sweet potatoes these days! No longer considered the ‘yearly yam for your holiday ham,’ sweet potatoes are far more versatile. From French fries to high-end cuisine, the sweet potato is definitely having a moment, and we’re all benefitting from this trend!
These orange bad boys also deliver some notable health benefits including a nice dose of vitamin B6, which may reduce the chemical homocysteine in our bodies. (Homocysteine has been linked with degenerative diseases, including heart attacks.) They’re also a great source for vitamins C and D as well as magnesium and potassium. Their rich orange color indicates that they are high in carotenoids like beta carotene and other carotenoids, which is the precursor to vitamin A in your body. Carotenoids help strengthen our eyesight and boost our immunity to disease, they are powerful antioxidants that help ward off cancer and protect against the effects of aging. 
So whether you say “po-TAY-toh” or “po-TAH-toh,” we can all agree on this—the traditional American side-dish has some new life with these exciting, delicious and healthy varieties. Spud, we salute you! 🙂
– By Cherie Boldt
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