Electrifying findings: New ways of boosting healthy antioxidant levels in potatoes

Here’s a scientific discovery fit to give Mr. Potato Head static cling and flyaway hair (if that vintage plastic toy had hair). Scientists have reported discovery of two simple, inexpensive ways of boosting the amounts of healthful antioxidant substances in potatoes. One involves giving spuds an electric shock. The other involves zapping them with ultrasound, high frequency sound waves.

“We found that treating the potatoes with ultrasound or electricity for 5-30 minutes increased the amounts of antioxidants –– including phenols and chlorogenic acid –– by as much as 50 percent,” said Kazunori Hironaka, Ph.D., who headed the research. “Antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables are considered to be of nutritional importance in the prevention of chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, various cancers, diabetes, and neurological diseases.”

Hironaka, who is with Obihiro University in Hokkaido, Japan, indicated that the process could have widespread commercial application, due to growing consumer interest in so-called “functional foods.” Those are products like berries, nuts, chocolate, soy, and wine that may have health benefits beyond traditional nutrition. Such foods may promote overall good health, for instance, or reduce the risk of specific diseases.

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