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Could Eating Purple Potatoes Be Your Best Defense Against Colon Cancer?

Rachel Morrell

Could Eating Purple Potatoes Be Your Best Defense Against Colon Cancer?

If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, what does a purple potato do?

Apparently, a purple potato a day keeps colon cancer at bay! According to a new study in The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, by increasing your intake of purple potatoes and other colorful fruits and vegetables, you can lower your risk for colon cancer and other diseases.

Jairam K.P. Vanamala, a professor of food sciences at Pennsylvania State University in State College, and a group of colleagues, studied pigs and their diet. The team discovered that when they supplemented the pigs’ high-calorie diet (HCD) with purple potatoes, the pigs experienced a reduction in interleukin-6, a pro-inflammatory protein. Previous studies show that interleukin-6 can foster cancer cell growth in the colon.

This is not the first study that links a plant-based diet to lower colon cancer risk. Countless studies suggest that reducing red meat and processed meat in the diet and increasing the intake of fruits, vegetables and whole grains can lower the risk of colon cancer, the third-leading cause of cancer death among men and women.

So what is it about purple potatoes that make them so special? The researchers assert that the phenolic acids and anthocyanins, which give the potatoes their deep color, have anti-inflammatory properties. After 13 weeks, the team found that the pigs who ate the HCD supplemented with purple potatoes had interleukin-6 levels that were six times lower than that of the control group.

Professor Vanamala and the team suggest that humans may experience similar reduction in interleukin-6 levels when consistently increasing the intake of colorful fruits and vegetables. Reducing inflammation could benefit the body in many other ways and could possibly help prevent type-2 diabetes. However, more research needs to be done.

"What we are learning is that food is a double-edge sword - it may promote disease, but it may also help prevent chronic diseases, like colon cancer," says Professor Vanamala, co-author of the study. "What we don't know is, 'how does this food work on the molecular level?' This study is a step in that direction" (Source: Medical News Today).

If you want to make some changes to your diet to reduce your risk for colon cancer, make an appointment with your doctor. A diet that is rich in colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins offers a powerful defense against colon cancer, especially when paired with regular physical activity. If you are a smoker, quit smoking, and limit your alcohol intake. Daily choices and lifestyle habits can make a significant difference in your colon cancer risk. Finally, get your baseline colonoscopy at age 50, or earlier if you are African American or exhibit other risk factors for the disease. If caught early, the 5-year survival rate for colon cancer is around 92 percent.

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