Naturally purple-fleshed potatoes may aid in killing bowel cancer stem cells, according to a team of international researchers who found that compounds in the colourful veggie suppressed the spread of bowel cancer tumours.

The research, conducted from researchers at Penn State and the University of Colorado and recently published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, found that the baked flesh of purple potatoes suppressed the growth of bowel cancer in petri dishes and in mice by targeting the cancer’s stem cells.

Bowel cancer is the second most common cancer affecting people in Australia, with around 14,000 people diagnosed every year.

“Researchers discovered that an extract compound found in the purple-fleshed potato suppressed the spread of bowel cancer stem cells and increased cell death,” said AUSVEG spokesperson Shaun Lindhe.

“This compound was shown to be just as effective at preventing bowel cancer stem cells when baked, meaning the vegetable could maintain its anti-cancer properties even after cooking.”

“According to the researchers, the potential cancer-fighting effects of the purple potato could be achieved by eating one large purple potato a day, which is certainly a realistic target for people to incorporate into their daily diets, particularly when you consider the potentially tremendous benefits.”

AUSVEG is the leading horticultural body representing more than 9,000 Australian vegetable and potato growers.

According to the researchers, the purple potato may contain several substances that work to kill bowel cancer stem cells, including resistant starch, which serves as a food for gut bacteria to regulate immune function in the stomach, suppress chronic inflammation and may also cause cancer cells to self-destruct.

In addition, researchers claim the same colour compounds that give potatoes and other fruit and vegetables their vibrant colours may be effective in suppressing cancer growth.

“Incorporating a wide variety of veggies into your diet has myriad positive health effects that can help many different aspects of a person’s overall health and well-being,” said Mr Lindhe.

“Considering bowel cancer is the second most common cancer in Australia, it is encouraging to see research that highlights the importance of a healthy, vegetable-rich diet in the potential prevention of the disease.”

“Luckily a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, including purple potatoes, are available to Australian consumers, and we encourage all Australians to incorporate them in their daily diets.”


MEDIA CONTACT:  Shaun Lindhe, Senior Communications Officer, AUSVEG

Phone: (03) 9882 0277, Mobile: 0405 977 789, Email: