5 Health reasons to add purple to your plate
“The darker the berry, the sweeter the juice” isn’t just a saying it’s a fact! It’s a scientifically-proven fact that the darker the food, the higher the antioxidant level.
Antioxidants have the ability to clean up free radicals and keep you looking younger, longer. Thus, purple foods are known for having amazing health benefits and healing powers.
The purple pigment in all of these fruits and vegetables contain flavonoids, including resveratrol, which can help decrease blood pressure. Resveratrol helps relax the arterial walls, decreases the pressure in the arteries and allows better circulation. Produce with purple hues contain a variety of polyphenols that can reduce the inflammatory response in the body.
Studies have shown that anthocyanin-rich purple foods may have the potential to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. One USDA-funded study found that a couple of servings of purple potatoes a day helped lower blood pressure in obese and hypertensive adults. Other studies suggest anthocyanins may play a role in reducing the risk of certain cancers, diabetes and dementia.
Most people are familiar with some purple fruits and vegetables, such as grapes, plums, red onions, eggplants and purple cabbage. Now you can find a growing array of heirloom and specialty vegetables with a distinctive purple hue: purple potatoes, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, asparagus, artichokes, carrots, corn, tomatoes, peppers, wax beans, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, and kale.
Let’s take a deeper look into these dark nutritional superheroes. Here are five reasons to eat more purple foods:
1. Purple foods kill cancer
The resveratrol found in purple grapes, cranberries, blueberries, bilberries, and, of course, red wine and grape juice can inhibit the spread of colorectal cancer in animal studies. Other promising studies also show that resveratrol can induce cancer cell death in cases of prostate, breast, skin, liver, lung and blood cancers. The curcumin in turmeric seems to boost its anti-cancer activity so have a glass of pinot noir (the type of wine highest in resveratrol) next time you have curry.
2. Purple foods are ulcer-fighters
A 2011 study found that anthocyanins from blackberries reduced stomach ulcer formation in rats. Researchers believe this is because the antioxidants in blackberries prevent oxidation and boost the activity of other important antioxidants, such as glutathione, that are naturally present in the body.
3. Purple foods are good for your liver
Black rice, which has more anthocyanins per gram than blueberries, is a delicious antioxidant grain that has been found to reduce damage to the liver incurred by excessive alcohol intake.
4. Purple foods are good for the heart
Black currants can lower “bad” LDL cholesterol by up to 13 percent while raising “good” HDL cholesterol. Black currants and…
bilberries have more anthocyanins than blueberries. Wild raw berries have higher antioxidant content than fresh raw berries or frozen varieties.
5. Purple foods prevent urinary tract infections
Vegetables such as purple cauliflower, purple carrots and purple cabbage contain the same plant pigment, anthocyanin, that is responsible for the UTI-fighting power of cranberries. Lab studies show that anthocyanin compounds fight H. pylori, the bacteria that promotes stomach ulcers and urinary tract infections.
Look for purple produce in your local supermarket or specialty market. Or you may discover them at a nearby farmer’s market.
Here are some ways you can get your purple on:
- Make coleslaw with shredded purple cabbage, purple carrots and purple kohlrabi.
- Use purple potatoes instead of russet when making potato salad, or combine with red-skinned new potatoes and roast in the oven with a drizzle of olive oil and fresh herbs.
- Slice purple grapes and add to chicken salad or a tossed green salad.
- Add purple carrots and purple kale to salads and stir-fries.
- Toss a plum in your bag for an afternoon snack.
- Drink a glass of grape juice at breakfast or for an afternoon snack.
- Make a chunky salsa with purple corn, purple tomatoes and purple onions.
- Bake a whole purple sweet potato and top with a teaspoon of butter and a sprinkling of cinnamon.
- Add a side of steamed purple asparagus or roasted cauliflower at dinner.
- Sprinkle blueberries or blackberries on your morning cereal or oatmeal.
- Puree a baked purple sweet potato and add to muffins, quick breads, pancakes and waffles.
- Steam baby purple artichokes and then cut in half and roast in the oven or finish on the grill.