August 22, 2010
Ultrasound Boosts Potato Antioxidants

Kazunori Hironaka, with Obihiro University in Hokkaido, Japan finds that it is possible to use ultrasound or electricity to make potatoes healthier to eat.

"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."

Home ultrasound for healthier eating? Or shock those potatoes into better shape?

"We knew from research done in the past that drought, bruising, and other stresses could stimulate the accumulation of beneficial phenolic compounds in fresh produce," Hironaka explained. "We found that there hasn't been any research on the healthful effects of using mechanical processes to stress vegetables. So we decided in this study to evaluate effect of ultrasound and electric treatments on polyphenols and other antioxidants in potatoes."

The ultrasound treatment consisted of immersing whole potatoes in water and subjecting them to ultrasound for 5 or 10 minutes. For the electrical treatment, the scientists immersed potatoes in a salt solution for 10 seconds and subsequently treated the spuds with a small electrical charge for 10, 20, and 30 minutes. The study team then measured antioxidant activity and the phenolic content and concluded that the stresses increased the amount of these compounds. The 5 minutes of ultrasound, for instance, increased polyphenol levels by 1.2 times and other antioxidants by about 1.6 times.

The potatoes probably need to be still whole and uncooked in order to produce phenols. So ultrasound before microwaving. How about a microwave oven that can deliver the ultrasound before microwaves?

Share |      Randall Parker, 2010 August 22 11:36 PM  Nutrition Antioxidant Sources

Brian Marcks said at August 23, 2010 4:36 AM:

Doesn't the same shocking occur when you put the potato into a microwave for 4 to 5 minutes to bake it? Isn't the antiocxidant level improved that way too?

bbartlog said at August 23, 2010 7:53 AM:

Potatoes also have slightly poisonous compounds in them, which can give the peel a (more) bitter taste. If you stress plant systems to increase their production of various defensive substances, it would really make sense to also look and see whether the levels of chemicals *harmful* to humans have been increased alongside those that are beneficial.

Randall Parker said at August 23, 2010 5:37 PM:


Microwaves cook the food very fast. My guess is that the biological processes can't get very far before the heat overwhelms and destroys what drives those processes.

ASPIRANT said at August 25, 2010 11:50 AM:

This reminds me of the story my grandfather told me about these Asian refugees he took in once... they said that in order to make meat most flavorful, you had to scare the animal and make them go through pain during slaughter.

Joseph Hertzlinger said at August 29, 2010 1:01 PM:

Mash first, then cook?

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