Submitted to: Pacific Northwest Vegetable Association Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: January 17, 2000
Publication Date: November 5, 2000
Citation: BROWN, C.R., WROLSTAD, R., CLEVIDENCE, B.A., EDWARDS, C.G. THE POTATO AS A FUNCTIONAL FOOD. PROCEEDINGS OF THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST VEGETABLE ASSOCIATION AND TRADE SHOW, NOV 13-14, PASCO, WA. P 17-23. 2000. Interpretive Summary: The potato industry is interested in new products that will attract the attention of consumers. This can include varieties that have functional attributes. A functional attribute is defined as a component that achieves a health objective. Potato is a healthy vegetable, is high in vitamin C, and Americans eat about 100 pounds per capita on a yearly basis. Much of modern potato consumption is in the form of snack foods with French fries and potato chips forming the major part of that. It is possible to find in the natural genetic variation of potato genotypes that have high levels of red and blue pigments called anthocyanins. In addition, white-fleshed potatoes have xanthophylls and yellow and orange-fleshed potatoes have high concentrations of several xanthophylls. All of these pigments are potent antioxidants. Antioxidants prevent biochemical damage caused by certain highly reactive compounds in the human body, and mitigate processes that lead to certain kinds of cancer, and heart disease. Therefore it should be possible to produce new potato varieties with high levels of pigments that will be eaten not only for their pleasing taste, but because they contribute greatly to the dietary health of people by providing substantial amounts of antioxidants.
Technical Abstract: Potato is known as source of carbohydrates and vitamin C. However, the categories of pigments that can possibly occur in potato in high concentration may serve as antioxidants in the diet. Phenolic compounds are potentially abundant in potato. In particular, anthocyanins are common, especially in native cultivars found in the Andes. Another class of pigments, carotenoids, are also ubiquitous in potato. Even white potatoes have lutein, a compound implicated in the maintenance of eye health. Yellow and orange fleshed potatoes have high concentrations of zeaxanthin and violaxanthin. These compounds fall into the category of xanthophylls. Potato does not posses beta carotene, a precursor to vitamin A. Ongoing breeding research is reported here that has created red- and purple-fleshed potato clones with Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacities (ORAC) approaching that of Brussels sprouts and kale. Red and purple fleshed potatoes were found to have acylated glycosides of pelargonidin, and pelargonidin and petunidin, respectively.