London: Want to make the humble potato
more nutritious? Then give it an electric shock.
Researchers at Japan`s Obihiro University have found
that zapping the vegetable with electricity trick it into
producing a rush of antioxidants credited with keeping the
human body and brain healthy.
Scaled up to an industrial level, the inexpensive process
could give potatoes a whole new image, the scientists said at
Other tests in the same study, which used potatoes as
the sample vegetable, found that using ultrasound on them had
a similarly beneficial effect.
Lead researcher Kazunori Hironaka said: "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
Inspired by the observation that drought, bruising and
other natural challenges, or stresses, led to vegetables
making more antioxidants, Dr Hironaka decided to investigate
"We found that there hadn`t been any research done on
the healthful effects of using mechanical processes to stress
vegetables," Dr Hironaka was quoted as saying by Daily Mail.
"So we decided to evaluate the effect of ultrasound
and electric treatments on antioxidants on potatoes."
For their study, the researchers dipped whole potatoes
in salty water, to help them conduct electricity, and then
they zapped the vegetables with a small charge for up to half
Subsequent tests revealed that antioxidant levels had
risen by up to 60 per cent.
Five minutes of ultrasound -- a technique normally
associated with scanning babies in the womb -- had a similar
effect, the researchers found.
Dr Hironaka said the study showed that the non-destructive
treatment was a simple and inexpensive way of making one of
our favourite foods even more appealing.
He added: "The potato is one of the most important
crops, ranking fifth in terms of human consumption and fourth
in worldwide productions."
However, the researchers neglected to say whether the
process affects the taste.
While baked and boiled potatoes may be an even more
attractive option for the health-conscious, chips will still
likely be bad for the waistline, they said.