Purple vegetables add glorious color to your meals. Some, like potatoes, tend to keep their vibrant violet hues even when they're cooked. And if that wasn't enough, evidence keeps growing that nutritional benefits come along with the purple pigment. The latest thumbs-up comes from a study in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. The paper's authors looked at high-calorie diets, which have been linked to colon cancer, and suggested that adding purple potatoes to those diets could reduce inflammation and other colon cancer risk factors. It's a long way from a single study to a proven medical fact, but a steady stream of research on purple potatoes along with other purple produce suggests that they're superfoods in addition to providing super flavors.
The benefits from these vegetables and fruits come from anthocyanins, the compounds responsible for red, blue and purple pigments in foods like blueberries and black currants in addition to purple potatoes.
Purple potatoes will work fine in most recipes that call for plain russet potatoes, but you can take particular advantage of their appearance when they're mashed, pureed, or used in recipes like this fabulous gratin. And if you don't like or can't find purple potatoes, you'll find those compounds in purple carrots, and they also give a great boost to red and purple cabbage. Here's a braised red cabbage recipe from Chef John to get you started.