Wednesday, October 24, 2012

New Potatoes Rich in Carotenoids

Scientists with USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) are breeding new yellow-fleshed potatoes with carotenoid levels that are from two to 15 times higher than those of the popular Yukon Gold variety.

Carotenoids are of keen interest because they appear to protect against age-related macular degeneration and perhaps against cataract formation.

ARS plant geneticist Kathy Haynes discovered wild potatoes with intense yellow flesh that have about 23 times more carotenoids than white-flesh potatoes. By crossing these wild potatoes with cultivated types, Haynes  developed high-carotenoid potatoes for commercial markets.

Haynes and her colleagues introduced a new potato named "Peter Wilcox" in 2007 which has become popular in niche markets. The overall carotenoid levels in the purple skinned and yellow fleshed potato are more than 15 percent higher than those in Yukon Gold.

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Artwork: Peter Wilcox potatoes. Photo by University of Florida.