It looks like a beetroot but there’s nothing vinegary about this vegetable; the ‘Purple Majesty’ potato, as it is so called, is a variety of potato that has a deep purple colour and researchers from the US found that when eaten by overweight patients with high blood pressure, it was as effective as if they had eaten porridge oats in lowering their readings. High blood pressure coupled with excessive weight is associated with strokes and heart attacks. It is thought that the benefits come from the purple colour of this potato, which derives from the same compounds found in red cabbage, aubergines, blueberries, blackberries and blackcurrants. The colour comes from anthocyanins, a group of health-enhancing polyphenols and are natural nutrients that help to lower the risk of heart disease, cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. The study involved 18 volunteers who ate 6 – 8 potato portions, the size of golf balls, with skins on, twice daily, for a month. The results showed that their average diastolic pressure dropped by 4.3% and their systolic pressure dropped by 3.5%. The research was led by Dr Joe Vinson at Scranton University of Pennsylvania who said, “The potato, more than perhaps any other vegetable, has an undeserved bad reputation that has led many health conscious people to ban them from their diet. Mention potato and people think ‘high fattening, high carbs, empty calories’. In reality, when prepared without frying and served without butter, margarine or sour cream, one potato has only 110 calories and dozens of healthy phytochemicals and vitamins. We hope our research helps to remake the potatoes healthy image.”
The Purple Majesty variety potato are currently being grown by thecompany, a 60 year old family run business based in Airdrie, who already supply more than 85,000 potato tons throughout the UK. Gillian Kynoch, the Head of Development said, “The Purple Majesty potato performs beautifully in the kitchen, mashing, baking, roasting and microwaving to perfection.” You can currently buy the Purple Majesty potato at Sainsburys, and at Halloween, they will be showcasing a special new purple potato wedge called the ‘witches finger’. A spokesperson for the store said, “We believe that Purple Majesty could be the prince of potatoes, heralding the start of a new reign.” Those who have tried the new potato say it has a distinctive ‘nutty’ flavour that is quite pleasant.