Much is said about eating greens, but when eating the rainbow, you should also pay attention to purple foods for their many surprising benefits.
In this article:
- Why Are Purple Foods Important?
- What Are the Benefits of Purple Foods?
- Which Purple Foods Can You Add to Your Diet?
11 Purple Foods You Should Include In Your Diet
Why Are Purple Foods Important?
While leaf greens tend to prance about in the spotlight of the food pyramid, foods that are purple deserve some love as well. This is because purple foods contain antioxidants, which the body needs to balance out oxidants that bodily processes produce on a daily basis.
Oxidants are also known by another name: free radicals. Free radicals can be found in the body as byproducts of bodily processes, or in the environment as damaging toxins.
While oxidants are a necessary part of the body’s functions, too much can damage cells. Free radicals contain highly unstable and uneven molecules that hog the balanced molecules of healthy cells upon contact.
Foods in the purple spectrum are high in resveratrol, which is of a great benefit to arterial walls because they cleanse blood circulation. They also contain high amounts of anthocyanins which are what give purple foods their rich and vibrant colors. Additionally, anthocyanins is responsible for the many health benefits that come along with eating them.
What Are the Benefits of Purple Foods?
Here are some of the benefits provided by purple foods:
- Risk reduction for high blood pressure
- Low HDL cholesterol
- Lower risk for long-term diseases such as cancer, neurological disease, cognitive damage, and cardiovascular conditions
- Reduced inflammation
- Reduction of damage in cells
Which Purple Foods Can You Add to Your Diet?
Beetroots taste great roasted, added to salads, soups, juice. They also add a sweet, earthy taste and vibrant color to smoothies. They are also packed with nutrients and antioxidants and have a very low-fat content.
The vibrant coloring of beets comes from betalains. It is a plant chemical similar to anthocyanins in that it gives coloring and provides anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities.
A study from 2013 also shows that constant drinking of beet juice is linked to lowering blood pressure.
Blueberries are not only fun to eat, but are also a great source of vitamin C. Vitamin C helps protect cells from damage, helps aid the body absorb iron, and boosts the production of collagen in the skin.
Blueberries also contain soluble fiber, which aids in the digestive process. One study shows that a supplement containing wild blueberry powder also improved memory and cognitive improvement in children from the ages of 7-10.
Fig may be a curious little fruit, and their dull and diminutive appearance make it an unlikely addition to holiday fruit baskets. But it’s actually well-known throughout history as a fruit eaten widely by the upper classes, and is present in a variety of candies, pastries, and preserves.
Figs are packed with phytonutrients, vitamins, and antioxidants. Its dried versions is an even better option, as the drying process makes its vitamin and mineral content more concentrated.
4. Red Cabbage
The common assumption regarding cabbages is that it’s green. But there is such a thing as a purple (or red, depending on the variety) cabbage.
It’s much smaller and more tightly packed than its green cousins. But it is loaded with nutrients, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, as well as dietary fiber.
By itself, it can be quite bitter. A great way of incorporating it into your diet is to add some to brighten up and add more texture to salads and coleslaws.
They may be called blackberries, but they aren’t actually black. They have a very deep and dark purple color, which indicates a high level of antioxidant content.
Packed with bioflavonoids, as well as vitamin C, these candies of the wild can help strengthen immunity, and help protect cells from damage. They are also low in calories, which makes them a healthy snack to enjoy.
6. Acai Berries
These berries have enjoyed a surge in popularity thanks to haute health cuisine and supplements. Their popularity is due to their high vitamin content: it has vitamins A, B, and C.
Acai berries are also high in fiber and protein content. They also pack mineral salts such as iron, calcium, potassium, and phosphorus.
7. Purple Yam
Purple yams are used in both sweet and savory dishes and are recently considered among the latest trendy foods thanks to the rich but subtle flavor. Besides packing a potent fiber and protein punch, it contains very little fat content.
Purple yams can be roasted, baked into pastries and cakes, and even whipped into milkshakes and ice creams.
While not technically a fruit or vegetable, lavender still enjoys an honorary status among purple foods thanks to its edible nature. It is a very popular ingredient for aromatherapy, thanks to its calming properties.
When eaten, lavender also provides a number of health benefits. It has minimal fat and calories, contains vitamin A, calcium, iron, as well as phytochemicals and antioxidants.
When using lavender, use it sparingly as it has a very strong flavor. Sprinkle some into tea, or bake it into cakes and pastries, or coat with sugar to use as decoration.
Many people are familiar with plums but rarely encounter them, no thanks to its more popular cousins the peach and apricot. It has a number of varieties, but the most cultivated in the United States is the purple plum.
Not only are plump plums a joy to eat (they have been immortalized in poetry), but they also have a number of health benefits you can enjoy. They contain vitamin A, as well as fiber, which can help with digestion.
10. Purple Carrots
Did you know that the first carrots humans ever ate were not orange? Purple carrots may be closer to the carrots our ancient ancestors included in their diets.
Their vibrant purple color also ensures that you reap the high antioxidant content. But just because purple carrots are higher in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties, and fiber, doesn’t mean you should eliminate orange carrots from your diet.
Cook up multi-colored carrots or roast them together. Not only does this make for a colorful meal, but a very healthy one.
Eggplants are a great source of the vitamins K, C, B6, as well as potassium, fiber, and magnesium. Their high water content also makes them low in calories, making them a great addition to weight-loss centered diets.
When preparing eggplants, make sure not to discard its skin. That’s where the anthocyanin is contained.
When incorporating purple foods in your diet, moderation is key. Eat colorful fruits and vegetables in equal parts to enjoy a well-rounded and balanced diet.
Do you have a favorite in our list of purple foods? Have we skipped anything? Let us know in the comments section below!