Are red potatoes naturally red? Yes and no. It is indeed possible that the red potatoes you are eating are in fact dyed! I know outrageous.
Why are red potatoes dyed? Well, spraying potatoes red is done by farmers to make them look super fresh. Consumers think the redder the fresher.
But, that does not mean that every single red potato that you buy is dyed. A lot of the red potatoes you see in the supermarket really are red and not dyed at all. That theory is especially true for organic produce.
In this post we will let you know how to recognise whether a red potato is dyed.
We will also talk about whether dying a potato impacts its nutritional value and everything you need to know about red potatoes, dyed or otherwise!
Are Red Potatoes Dyed? And Why are they?!
Sadly, in this world it is all about making a buck. If they are dyed, they are dyed to sell more produce as red potatoes are associated by consumers with freshness.
Red potatoes that are dyed don’t mean they are not red potatoes. What happens is that the naturally occurring red colour fades over time. It can also fade if the potatoes are exposed to too much sunlight OR just like humans (who come in different skin tones) red potatoes might also naturally come in different shades of red.
Consumers think this means they are not fresh which honestly can be the case, but is not always the case. Farmers have cottoned onto consumers thoughts and have started painting their red potatoes so they can sell them for longer.
NOTE: Importantly, if the color of the potatoes has faded, it doesn’t usually mean that it has lost nutrients which is key.
How Do Red Potatoes Get Their Color?
The reason why red potatoes are red and not black, orange or yellow is due to a component called anthocyanins. This component is also responsible for giving other red produce, like strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries its color.
It kind of reminds me of photosynthesis in the fact that the red color is activated when it is exposed to sunset. I know, a bit different but I got the same “vibe”.
They also of course get their red color when they are dyed which typically happens when they are sprayed red, to keep consumers happy.
Do Red Potatoes taste any different?
No, you won’t be able to notice any taste in the food coloring.
Personally, I can’t taste food coloring even in a cake but some people believes it makes the food taste more bitter.
That does not seem to be the situation for dyed red potatoes which taste exactly the same as a regular red potatoe, in my opinion.
How Can You Avoid Dyed Potatoes? And Should You?
If you would eat a piece of green or purple cake at a kids party then this won’t hurt you. But, if you don’t love the idea of having anything artificial in your fresh produce I can’t blame you…
Here are some ways you can avoid dyed red potatoes:
1. Buy Organic Produce
This is a big reason why organic produce gets a big tick. Organic red potatoes should not be using any dyes in the products.
If you want to guarantee yourself non dyed potatoes, go organic. The other thing that is great about buying organic is that no pesticides are used, meaning the product should be toxin free.
2. Buy non-GMO Potatoes
A food is non GMO if none of its ingredients were created with genetic engineering aka the produce is not sprayed with sh*t.
3. Avoid really red potatoes
If the potato is really red, it is likely from the use of a dye.
Are Red Potatoes Healthy?
There are lots of nutrients in red potatoes that are healthy including vitamin C, thiamin, vitamin K, niacin, vitamin B6, magnesium, potassium, copper, and manganese.
Are potatoes as healthy as pumpkins or sweet potatoes? No, but they are still a healthy option. Similarly, they aren’t usually considered a diet food due to their high carbohygrate concentration.
The anthocyanins that make the potatoes red are also antioxidants that are really great at helping to boost the immune system and reduce body inflammation.
Are Red Potatoes Healthier than White Potatoes?
Generally, I like to think that fruit and vegetables with a lot of color are very healthy for you. There’s some truth to this but in actuality it is a bit more complicated than that.
The anthocyanins which make the potatoes red mean that the potatoes do have a higher antioxidant content, however, white potatoes have other benefits like a higher protein content and a much higher vitamin C content, among other things.
You can check out the table below from the FDC to compare the pros and cons of each:
|White potato (one large, 369g)
|Red potato(one large, 369g)
|Vitamin C (DRV)
|Vitamin B6 (DRV)
Red potatoes are not always dyed, they are naturally red due to their anthocyanin content. However, they can be made red or redder for commercial sale by farmers as consumers tend to believe – the redder the fresher.
I avoid artificial coloring if I can help it.
If you want to too – I would suggest buying organic red potatoes, non-GMO or ones that are not overly red to avoid dye.
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