The health benefits of purple foods.
By Amy Crawford
Green is good, but purple is power!
Purple food - think red cabbage, eggplant, plums and berries - are not only the powerhouses of the plant world but some of the most delicious. These days, green leafy vegetables tend to hog the limelight (and with good reason), but don't forget about the wonderful health benefits of purple foods, just along the rainbow.
Every deliciously dark purple fruit and vegetable is packed with antioxidants. As well as being every woman’s best excuse to drink more red wine (guilty), they’re desperately needed in the body to balance out oxidants, which cause nasty damage to your cells if their numbers get too high. Oxidants are also called ‘free radicals’.
Purple and blue foods also contain resveratrol which contributes greatly to your arterial walls (cleansing your blood circulation) and a specific antioxidant called anthocyanin. The latter is responsible for all those vibrant colours and is now being identified as a key player in the health benefits associated with purple foods.
That’s all great, I hear you say, but what does it mean for me in the daily grind? Why does it deserve my attention (and space in the pantry)?
Why you need more purple love
Antioxidants and all things purple have wide and far-reaching powers to maintain important body functions and protect us from some pretty major diseases. Here’s what antioxidants like anthocyanin can do:
- Reduce the risk of high blood pressure and low HDL cholesterol (the good kind),
- Help to prevent obesity and diabetes
- Lower the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, neurological diseases and cognitive declines
- Reduce inflammation and therefore chronic disease
- Assist in preventing urinary tract infections, fight ulcers, reduce liver damage and prevent other diseases contracted from cell damage
If you’re looking for a big fluffy blanket to keep your body covered and protected from a number of biological dangers, eating purple will have you covered.
5 best purple foods to add to your diet
We can’t pack everything purple into our weekly routines, so here are 5 of my picks that will give you the best antioxidant bang for your buck.
1. Purple carrots
You may have seen these at your local fruit and vegie market and thought they looked a little strange. As it happens these were normal carrots up until the 17th century, so they’re actually more normal than their orange counterparts! Very high in anti-inflammatory properties, support a healthy weight, and excellent sources of fibre and Vitamin A.
2. Purple cabbage
A striking flavour both raw and cooked, purple cabbage boosts the immune system, is rich in fibre and Vitamin K (important for healthy bones). It also contains probiotics, and can be used instead of the green type to make the tasty Korean dish, Kimchi. Try adding it to your salads (like this asian slaw) or soups.
3. Purple potatoes
Apart from having a mesmerising textured purple colour, they help lower blood pressure, keep blood circulation healthy and can be used as a natural alternative to artificial dye. They have a subtle favour so best used with seasoning or other ingredients.
Rich source of Vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin B6, magnesium, potassium and too many more. Eggplant is often touted as one of the world’s healthiest foods, a pitch made stronger with the presence of anthocyanin. Just make sure you don’t throw out the skin – it’s the most nutritious part! Great in a curry.
5. Purple fruits
All deep red, blue or purple fruits are high in all the good stuff above so you really can’t go wrong. Add some juicy blueberries (blueberry ice cream anyone?), strawberries and raspberries to your fruit salads or snack options, try plums for added digestive health and acai berries to slow down the ageing process (yes please).
Be sure to keep an eye for next week's post! I will be sharing lots of delicious purple-inspired recipes from some amazing wellness experts (so you know they'll be great!).
What are some of your favourite purple foods and how do you like eating them? Have you tried some of the harder-to-find types like purple potatoes?