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Photo: Several potatoes of the red-skinned AmaRosa variety. Link to photo information
A new great-tasting, high-nutrient red potato variety, AmaRosa , developed by ARS, is available to consumers just in time for the holidays. Click the image for more information about it.

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Delicious, Nutritious, and a Colorful Dish for the Holidays

By Rosalie Marion Bliss
December 3, 2014

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists and their cooperators have developed nutritious new potatoes varieties with red and purple flesh and skin. All potatoes contain an assortment of nutrients and other health-promoting compounds, and the colored-flesh potato varieties contain anthocyanins and carotenoids. The amount and type depend on the potato variety. These delicious—and colorful—new potatoes are now available to consumers.

The most-eaten U.S. vegetable, phytonutrient-rich potatoes can have a strong impact on human health, according to Agricultural Research Service (ARS) plant geneticist Charles Brown. Brown carefully bred the three unique red- and purple-pigmented potato varieties at ARS’s Vegetable and Forage Crops Research Laboratory in Prosser, Washington. Getting the colorful potatoes to consumers has taken decades. ARS is USDA’s chief intramural scientific research agency.

Brown and his colleagues analyzed and compared concentrations of phytochemicals in yellow- and purple-pigmented potatoes and in white potatoes in a study. The team reported that purple potatoes had a 20-fold greater concentration of anthocyanins than yellow potatoes. No detectable amounts of anthocyanins were found in white potatoes. In the same study, the team also compared sensory evaluations of pigmented potatoes with those of white potatoes. When yellow, purple and white potatoes were ranked by a consumer panel, no significant differences in flavor or in overall acceptance were observed.

The three great-tasting potato varieties with colored flesh that are now available to consumers are TerraRosa, Amarosa and Purple Fiesta (also known as Purple Pelisse). They perform well across a variety of preparation methods such as baking, roasting, microwaving, steaming and mashing.

Brown worked on developing and evaluating the varieties as a contributing partner with the Northwest (Tri State) Potato Variety Development Program. To learn more about this research or to find out where to purchase the new potato varieties, read the November/December 2014 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.