Charles R. Brown of the USDA/ARS Vegetable and Forage Crops Production Unit in Prosser, WA, has developed an orange-fleshed potato with up to four times the antioxidants zeaxanthin and lutein as white potatoes.
The industry and some consumers may have already seen purple and red potatoes sold through organic stores, but these potatoes are darker in color and have much more antioxidants than the commercial varieties.
Brown says the potatoes of these colors, which originated in South America, may provide many health benefits as well as new colors.
All potatoes are a good source of complex carbohydrates, potassium, vitamin C, folic acid, and iron. Brown has made dozens of breeding crosses to examine additional health benefits.
He says that before the colored potatoes become commercially available, they need important agronomic traits, such as appealing skin, reasonable yield and disease resistance. They should also have low concentrations of bitterness.
Brown says there is good interest from growers who see these varieties-not as a novelty-but as a previously untapped market.
According to an ARS report, Brown says Americans love their potatoes and giving them additional reasons to include them in their diets is a plan that's likely to succeed.