You’ve probably heard a lot about the benefits of eating from the full rainbow of colors.
A diet rich in plants from every shade is an easy way to ensure you’re getting a rich variety of the vitamins and minerals your body needs to stay healthy and strong.
While green foods get a lot of attention (and deservedly so), we’re going to talk about the purple foods and how beneficial they are for maintaining a healthy system.
The natural chemical that gives plants that lovely purple (deep blue, black, and purplish-red also count) is also quite good for you. The compound is called anthocyanin, though you don’t have to remember that. Just focus on that rich purple pigment, and how good it’s going to look in your next dish!
The Powerful Pigment
Foods high in anthocyanin (meaning the purple ones) have been a part of traditional diets — not to mention herbal medicine — across the globe for many centuries. And no wonder, as anthocyanin has a number of health benefits to recommend it.
Anthocyanin also has antioxidant properties, which means these purple fruits and veggies can supplement the benefits of your green tea. In helping to prevent the cellular damage that comes from exposure to daily irritants, antioxidants are a natural preventative for many chronic diseases.
A healthy urinary tract
Cranberries (and cranberry juice) have been used as the go-to remedy for UTI for generations. As you might guess, it’s the anthocyanin to thank. Including a variety of anthocyanin-rich foods will not only help your urinary tract stay healthy, it also fights the bacteria (h. pylori) responsible for many stomach ulcers.
Trim down your liver
Rats with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease were given anthocyanin in the form of sweet cherries. According to the study, after 15 weeks, they showed “significant reduction” not only in the liver, but overall body weight as well.
Cherries have also been shown to reduce gout attacks.
Purple foods not only help with fat in your liver, they can help reduce LDL levels (the “bad” cholesterol) while improving HDL. Including 4-5 servings of purple foods, along with other dietary changes and regular exercise, can help reduce your chances of heart disease.
Purple Produce, and where to find it
When most of us think of purple foods, we tend to think of fruits first. And no wonder, as the supermarket produce section has a wide variety of selections, including:
Going beyond eggplant
Eggplant is the go-to purple veggie. What you may not realize is that there are blue (and red) varieties of common vegetables which are also high in anthocyanins:
- Purple Asparagus
- Blue Corn
- Purple Cabbage
- Purple Carrots
- Purple Cauliflower
- Purple (and red) Potatoes
- Black rice
If you have trouble finding some of these veggies, try checking your local farmer’s market. In addition to having a wider selection of produce (including oftentimes heirloom varieties), it’s much easier and cheaper to find organic selections.
If you’re looking for additional easy food swaps to make your diet even healthier, try purple on for size.