20 June 2022
Country's first purple-fleshed variety follows years of breeding work
FOLLOWING many years of selection work carried out at the Zamarte potato farm in Poland, a new purple potato variety, Provita, has emerged which breeding specialist Alexandra Bech says has many positive effects on health, even suppressing cancer cell proliferation and slowing the aging process.
Purple-fleshed potatoes have a subtle flavour of anthocyanins, which give them their characteristic colour. Most people will find it very similar to the taste of classic varieties with white or yellow flesh. Taste is a very subjective sensation.
"Provita belongs to the culinary type B — general purpose. The pulp of varieties assigned to this type, after cooking, remains quite dense, but it is easy to crush it with a fork. Type B potatoes are also used in mashed potatoes," Alexandra said in a recent interview with with Potato System, Russia.
"I believe that the inclusion of Provita in the diet will enrich it with anthocyanins, which have anti-cancer properties. They give Provita a characteristic purple color, but not only to it, but also to other plants. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables can significantly reduce your risk of cancer, but only if you eat a balanced diet."
Alexandra said anthocyanins contained in Provit have a positive effect on many systems of our body.
"First of all, they suppress free radicals and thus protect our DNA from damage. In addition, they have a beneficial effect on the lipid profile and increase the sensitivity of cells to insulin. They protect the circulatory system, reducing atherosclerotic changes in blood vessels and strengthening capillaries. They stimulate the production of rhodopsin, which is responsible for vision, it allows you to see better at dusk. It is worth adding that the negative effects of anthocyanins on the human body have not been proven by scientists."
Alexandra said there are many scientific publications about purple potatoes and their positive role in the diet. This year, the Provita variety entered the University of Life Sciences in Wroclaw, where it will be thoroughly tested. The level of polyphenolic compounds (including anthocyanins) and antioxidant potential will be tested.
"At the moment, it is known that the intense purple color of the pulp indicates a large amount of anthocyanins in the tubers. The amount of dyes in purple potatoes per 100 g fresh weight is similar to the amount of dyes in 100g raw weight of strawberries, red onions or red cabbage. It is worth emphasizing that all potatoes, not just purple ones, have many valuable ingredients for our body."
Enlarging on the breeding process, Alexandra said purple forms of pulp, obtained at the first stage of selection, make up only 1% of the entire population structure.
"Potato breeding begins with the selection of suitable parent pairs. In the case of purple potatoes, it is important that one of the parental forms has firm flesh with an intense and uniform colour. Tubers that do not contain blue pigment are excluded from this combination at an early stage. In subsequent years, many characteristics are evaluated, including the length of the growing season, the depth of the eyes, taste, colour after cooking, yield, resistance to pathogens."
The biggest challenge for breeders was to obtain a variety with good agrotechnical and functional characteristics with uniformly-coloured hard flesh, said Alexandra, adding that the choice of components responsible for the purple colour of the pulp is significantly limited, since there are few varieties with this colour. In addition, most of them have low qualitative and quantitative characteristics and are varieties with a long growing season.
"In the case of Provita, we were able to overcome several selection barriers, resulting in a variety with skin smooth enough to wash, shallow eyes, fairly high yields, and early and resistant to major diseases."
Provita is moderately resistant to late blight. On a scale of 9 (1-susceptible, 9 completely resistant), the resistance is 4, the breeder claimed, going on to say that it is resistant to potato cancer, and internal and external defects of tubers.
So is growing Provita different from other varieties? Alexandra claimed it is no different.
In terms of consumer attraction, the variety's health benefits and colour are sure to be a draw.
“These days, people are becoming more aware and paying more attention to the products they buy. The additional health benefits associated with the presence of anthocyanins may encourage consumers to replace traditional (white or yellow) potatoes with purple ones due to the greater health benefits," said Alexandra.
The breeder went on to say that there is a great interest in Provita, both on the part of gastronomes and on the part of consumers, in Poland.
"For some time, Provita was sold in one of the retail chains and enjoyed great interest among buyers. Our market research has shown that there is room in the market for this variety, especially because of its superior qualities compared to most varieties available on the market."
Source: Potato System