I’ve said for years that the best way to avoid weight gain and diabetes is to stay away from white foods, such as white flour, sugar, white rice, and even potatoes.
It’s generally good advice, but if the thought of giving up some favorite foods is hard, I have good news.
You can have your potatoes and eat them too — you just have to eat the right ones. And eating the right potato will even help you fight colon cancer.
Can a potato really fight colon cancer? The answer is yes! But only the purple ones.
Yes, potatoes come in purple. And unlike their red or Yukon gold counterparts, it isn’t just their skin that’s purple. The purple hue goes all the way through.
But purple potatoes aren’t a dietary loophole. They’re actually incredibly good for you. In fact, new research has found that purple potatoes may help you fight the second-deadliest cancer in the U.S.
As you may know, colon cancer kills more than 50,000 people in the U.S. every year. And purple potatoes can help.
Here’s How Purple Potatoes Fight Cancer
If you’ve ever tried to get rid of weeds, you know it doesn’t do any good just to cut off the visible part of the plant. Unless you dig up or kill the roots, the plant will just grow right back.
Cancer is very similar. You can kill off many of the cancer cells, but unless you kill the cancer’s stem cells, the cancer will just grow right back. That’s why attacking stem cells is one of the most powerful ways to fight cancer.
And, according to research published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, purple potatoes do just that to colon cancer stem cells. The researchers in this study found that mice eating the equivalent of a human adult eating two medium or one large baked purple potato experienced a reduction in the spreading of colon cancer.
But that’s not all. Their cancer stem cells died at a faster rate.
The researchers are still trying to determine exactly why the potatoes have such a powerful effect. But associate professor of food sciences at Penn State and faculty member at the Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute Jairam Vanamala has some ideas.
Vanamala explains, “Our earlier work and other research studies suggest that potatoes, including purple potatoes, contain resistant starch, which serves as a food for the gut bacteria that the bacteria can convert to beneficial short-chain fatty acids such as butyric acid. The butyric acid regulates immune function in the gut, suppresses chronic inflammation, and may also help to cause cancer cells to self-destruct.”
Don’t Stop With Potatoes Though
Even if the exact mechanisms aren’t known yet, these findings are still a great reminder of why it’s so important to consume a wide variety of colorful vegetables.
Vanamala continues, “When you eat from the rainbow, instead of one compound, you have thousands of compounds working on different pathways to suppress the growth of cancer stem cells. Because cancer is such a complex disease, a silver bullet approach is just not possible for most cancers.”
I think eating “from the rainbow” of colored vegetables is a great approach.
This study is a great reminder of just how powerful these colorful foods can be. Swapping white potatoes for purple is an easy trade, and the benefits are well worth it.