Purple Sweet Potatoes: A Healthier Alternative to Artificial Food Coloring

Geo Beats
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Texas A&M University researchers are working on extracting the purple sweet potato’s “vegetable juice” as a healthy replacement for artificial food dyes.

Since cheaper synthetic ingredients often equals larger profits for food companies, valuing your health requires taking the time to read food labels, research ingredients, and stop buying harmful products. As more people demand change, the guilty companies will hopefully shift back to truly natural ingredients like the purple sweet potato.

Texas A&M University food chemist, Stephen Talcott, heads up research for extracting the purple sweet potato’s “vegetable juice” as a food dye. It holds intense colors, tastes mild, offers many shades “from raspberry red to grapelike purple,” and even has anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic health benefits.

One challenge scientists must overcome is how to more easily extract the color from the potato’s firm texture. Another is the cost – presently the dye averages $136 per pound, but it is believed that if demand increases that price will lower as more farmers grow it.

While purple sweet potato dye may not be widely available yet and natural dyes in general not as bright, many hope health conscious companies will make the switch to plant based colors,

Also, home cooks can use a rainbow of fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices to add color while keeping food nutritious and balancing other flavors.

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