How Different Colored Sweet Potatoes Store Healthy Plant Compounds

Greg Howard
8th July, 2024

How Different Colored Sweet Potatoes Store Healthy Plant Compounds

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • The study by Hubei Minzu University analyzed the secondary metabolites in white, orange, and purple sweet potato varieties
  • Researchers identified 4,447 secondary metabolites, with significant differences in flavonoids and phenolic acids among the varieties
  • The purple sweet potato's color is linked to specific compounds like paeoniflorin-like and delphinidin-like compounds
Sweet potatoes are a staple food in many parts of the world, known for their nutritional benefits and diverse range of colors, which indicate varying levels of beneficial compounds. A recent study conducted by Hubei Minzu University[1] aimed to analyze the secondary metabolite profiles in different-colored sweet potato flesh using advanced liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). The study focused on white (BS), orange (CS), and purple (ZS) sweet potato varieties, revealing significant differences in their metabolomic profiles. The researchers identified a total of 4,447 secondary metabolites, with 1,540, 1,949, and 1,931 differentially accumulated metabolites in the comparisons of CS vs. BS, ZS vs. BS, and ZS vs. CS, respectively. Among these, flavonoids and phenolic acids were prominently different. Notably, 20 flavonoids and 13 phenolic acids were common differential metabolites among the three comparison groups. The study also highlighted that the accumulation of paeoniflorin-like and delphinidin-like compounds could be responsible for the purple coloration in sweet potato flesh. These findings align with previous research that has explored the nutritional composition and antioxidant properties of various sweet potato varieties. For instance, a study on nine varieties of orange-fleshed sweet potato in Bangladesh found significant variations in total carotenoids and polyphenol content[2]. This earlier research indicated that dark orange-colored sweet potatoes had higher carotenoid content, which is crucial for preventing vitamin A malnutrition and providing dietary antioxidants. Moreover, the impact of processing methods on sweet potato flour has been investigated, revealing that high hydrostatic pressure and soaking solutions can modify the nutritional profile[3]. Specifically, ascorbic acid treatment increased total polyphenol content in certain sweet potato varieties, while high hydrostatic pressure with citric acid, calcium chloride, and distilled water significantly boosted β-carotene content. These processing methods could be utilized to enhance the nutritional value of sweet potato-based foods. The recent study by Hubei Minzu University builds on these findings by providing a comprehensive analysis of the secondary metabolites in sweet potatoes, particularly focusing on flavonoids and phenolic acids. These compounds are known for their antioxidant properties, which can help prevent chronic diseases by neutralizing harmful free radicals in the body. The identification of specific compounds like paeoniflorin-like and delphinidin-like compounds offers new insights into the health benefits associated with different sweet potato varieties. Furthermore, previous research has demonstrated the significant yield and diversity of anthocyanins and flavonoids in sweet potatoes grown in different conditions[4]. The recent study's identification of over 4,000 secondary metabolites, including numerous flavonoids and phenolic acids, underscores the substantial metabolic diversity of sweet potatoes. This diversity is essential for breeding programs aimed at developing sweet potato varieties with enhanced nutritional profiles. In conclusion, the recent study by Hubei Minzu University provides valuable insights into the secondary metabolite profiles of different-colored sweet potato flesh. By identifying significant differences in flavonoids and phenolic acids, the research offers a new rationale for developing functional foods from sweet potatoes. These findings, supported by previous studies, highlight the potential of sweet potatoes as a nutritious and health-promoting food source with diverse metabolic profiles.

VegetablesBiochemPlant Science


Main Study

1) Accumulation patterns of flavonoids and phenolic acids in different colored sweet potato flesh revealed based on untargeted metabolomics.

Published 30th October, 2024 (future Journal edition)

Related Studies

2) Comparison of the Proximate Composition, Total Carotenoids and Total Polyphenol Content of Nine Orange-Fleshed Sweet Potato Varieties Grown in Bangladesh.

3) Effects of high hydrostatic pressure and soaking solution on proximate composition, polyphenols, anthocyanins, β-carotene, and antioxidant activity of white, orange, and purple fleshed sweet potato flour.

4) Untargeted metabolomics of purple and orange-fleshed sweet potatoes reveals a large structural diversity of anthocyanins and flavonoids.

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