Types of potatoes
As someone who once had a religious experience when I dipped a French fry into mashed potatoes, you can imagine my delight when I learned that a certain potato may increase your odds of becoming a centenarian.
And? These seemingly magical potatoes are also straight-up gorgeous.
Purple potatoes are a variety of potatoes eaten regularly in the "Blue Zone" in Okinawa, Japan, meaning they could play a role in helping you live to 100. Other factors like lifestyle, genetics and the rest of your diet play a role too, but how exciting is it to know something that tastes significantly better than kale is great for you? Read on to find out how and why they can extend your life.
Related: What Are Purple Sweet Potatoes?
Can Eating Purple Potatoes Really Help You Live to 100?
Maybe. The jury is still out, but experts agree that it surely can't hurt, provided, like anything else, you enjoy them in moderation with a good variety of other healthy, colorful plant-based foods in your diet.
"There's no direct evidence to suggest that purple potatoes alone can contribute to longevity. However, like other colorful vegetables, purple potatoes are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients," Avery Zenker, RD, MAN, says. "Antioxidants can help combat oxidative stress and inflammation, which are associated with aging and age-related diseases. They're also a very satiating food, which can support healthy eating habits."
As such, Zenker notes, "I would expect that purple potatoes, as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle, would be supportive of longevity."
What Sets Purple Potatoes Apart From Regular Potatoes?
Aside from being prettier, purple potatoes differ in their nutritional content from other types of potatoes.
"Purple potatoes have a similar nutritional makeup compared to red potatoes," Samantha Turner, MPH, RDN, says. "Both are nutrient-rich and provide a good amount of fiber, but the specific health benefits may differ slightly due to differences in antioxidant properties in the purple potato."
"They are rich in anthocyanins, a polyphenol found in red, blue and purple produce associated with numerous health benefits," Sarah Chatfield, MPH, RDN, Chatfield, explains. "Anthocyanins have demonstrated antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects in lab and animal studies. Anthocyanins have also been associated with improved cholesterol levels and vascular health."
What's more, they may even improve your mood. At least one study shows that eating purple potatoes can help improve psychological stress responses like irritability and depression—which can help improve overall health, Turner says.
Are Purple Potatoes a Superfood?
"Given their nutrient density and antioxidant levels, purple potatoes can be considered a 'superfood,'" George Yang, RD, says, noting, "It's essential to consume a variety of foods for optimal health." Read: You can't live on just purple potatoes.
Related: Superfood Smoothie Recipes
What's the Healthiest Way to Eat Purple Potatoes?
Potatoes often get a bad rap for not being quite as healthy as other vegetables, but like many other things, that often comes down to how they're prepared: Deep-frying or mashing with a ton of butter and cream can sure be delicious, but it's not necessarily going to reap you all of the health benefits of other methods (because life isn't fair).
Registered dietitians recommend these ways to prepare purple potatoes to max out their health benefits:
Baking or roasting (try using olive oil and your favorite seasonings)
Incorporating them into potato salads
Slicing and air frying with your favorite seasonings
Subbing them in for other potatoes in stews
Using them in a stir fry
Using them in soups
Can You Eat Too Many Purple Potatoes?
Just like anything else, you can have too much of a good thing with purple potatoes, Yang warns: "Overconsumption can lead to excessive calorie intake." That can lead to weight gain, and if you're overweight, that can come with its own set of health risks.