Live Long & Purple: Purple Sweet Potatoes May Help You Live Longer

Research on the Okinawan diet reveals a connection between longevity and the vibrant tubers

LOS ALAMITOS, CA (September 2016) – Shoppers around the world are discovering the potential health benefits of purple sweet potatoes, thanks to media coverage by a recent BBC documentary series and research from the Blue Zones organization.

In April 2016, the BBC aired a documentary series called “How to Stay Young” featuring a segment on the Okinawan diet. According to a decade-long study of the Okinawan people, it appears that a key factor in the Okinawans’ vigorous health and longevity can be attributed to the consumption of purple sweet potatoes. Okinawans reportedly eat an average of half a kilo (1 pound) of purple sweet potatoes per day.

“After the program aired, we were deluged with emails from people in the U.K. and the U.S. looking for purple sweet potatoes,” said Karen Caplan, President and CEO of Frieda’s Specialty Produce. “Our California-grown Stokes® Purple sweet potatoes are a different variety than the Okinawan sweet potatoes, but they actually have an even darker, vibrant, purple flesh.”

Blue Zones, an organization founded by National Geographic fellow Dan Buettner, is another source of information about the Okinawan diet—a diet specific to an island in Japan—and purple sweet potatoes. Buettner has written three books on the topic of how lifestyle and diet impact longevity.

In addition to vitamin C, fiber, carotenoids, and slow-burning carbohydrates, researchers believe that the presence of anthocyanins, the natural phytochemicals that give purple sweet potatoes their deep violet color, may be the key. Numerous studies have shown that anthocyanins may have disease-fighting properties.

The beige-skinned, lavender-fleshed Okinawan sweet potato is available on a limited basis in the U.S., as it is typically grown in Hawaii and must be irradiated before reaching the mainland.

In comparison, Frieda’s California-grown Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes are available in plentiful supplies to retailers and wholesalers throughout North America. The Stokes variety features dark purple skin and dense, vibrant, purple flesh that intensifies in color when cooked.

“Our goal is to have Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes available year-round,” said Caplan. “But because they are so popular, we tend to sell out before summer begins.”

The 2016-17 Stokes Purple® sweet potato season has just begun and Frieda’s has excellent supplies of both organic and conventional packs (15 lb. and 40 lb. cartons). Organic is also available in 12/3 lb. bags. Join in and give purple power back to the people by contacting your Frieda’s account manager about Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes today.

Frieda’s also features several fan-favorite recipes including “Stokes Purple® Sweet Potato Medallions with Chipotle Cream,” “Purple Power Breakfast Bowl,” and “Stokes Purple® Sweet Potato Oven Fries.”

About Frieda’s Inc.

Frieda’s Specialty Produce celebrates a 54-year legacy of inspiring new food experiences for friends, family, and food lovers everywhere. Credited with introducing more than 200 specialty fruits and vegetables to U.S. supermarkets, Frieda’s has helped launch unique items like kiwi fruits, Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes, habanero peppers, Sunchokes®, and organic finger limes. Founded in 1962 by produce industry icon Dr. Frieda Rapoport Caplan, subject of the 2015 documentary “Fear No Fruit,” the family company is now owned and operated by Frieda’s daughters, Karen Caplan and Jackie Caplan Wiggins, in Orange County, California. Find Frieda’s on Facebook, @FriedasProduce, and Inspire. Taste. Love.