Naturally-purple foods aren’t just pleasing to the eye – they also happen to be loaded with brain-boosting and heart-protecting nutrients. Here’s why you should be getting a good dose of these fruits, veggies and grains – plus we’ve found 5 which are exceptionally healthful.
We’ve all heard the sage advice to “eat the rainbow” when it comes to fruit and veggies, but many of us neglect one of the most beneficial colours – purple. What makes purple produce so good for us is partly due to a compound known as anthocyanin. This is a coloured pigment which is known as a flavonoid – essentially it acts as an antioxidant to fight inflammation and boost our immunity. Foods with purple, blue and deep red pigments are exceptionally rich in anthocyanin, and we’ll be diving into some of your options and their benefits to your health.
Despite their name, blueberries are actually coloured a deep purple rather than blue, and that flavonoid we mentioned above, anthocyanin, is what gives blueberries their trademark colour – and it’s also what’s responsible for this humble fruit’s many health benefits. The antioxidant effect not only fights inflammation, but may also combat the development of diseases like diabetes, cancer and obesity. One review found that those who consumed anthocyanin-containing plant extracts had a reduced blood pressure level, indicating that foods like blueberries are a powerful tool to ward of high blood pressure and the many diseases that can stem from it, including one of the world’s biggest killers: heart disease. But that’s not the only benefit of blueberries – these tiny powerhouses are loaded with gut-healthy fibre and vitamins K and E for heart, bone and skin health. You’ll also find a whopping 24% of the daily recommended intake for vitamin C in just a cup of blueberries. So, add them to your morning oatmeal, your favourite smoothie or even in a salad – the health benefits speak for themselves.
Much like blueberries, blackberries are also rich in anthocyanins and have been found to reduce the risk for chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease. They protect your DNA and cells from damage that can contribute to chronic inflammation and gut issues. Blackberries are also loaded with vitamin C, magnesium and folate – all of which contribute to a healthy, functioning body, from your brain to your gut. You’ll also find a good dose of manganese and potassium in blackberries, the former of which is essential for healthy blood clotting, balanced hormones and healthy bones, while the latter contributes to healthy nerves, muscles and brain function.
It’s time to switch your cauliflower up – if you’re a fan of this cruciferous veggie, why not up the nutritional profile and give purple cauliflower a go? The anthocyanins add an impressive dose of anti-inflammatory properties which are known cancer-fighters, with some research finding these compounds to be particularly effective against colorectal cancer. You’ll not only enjoy the burst of colour that this veggie brings to any dish, but you’ll also enjoy the boost of fibre and antioxidants which are known to extend your life and improve your health significantly.
If you thought it couldn’t get better than regular carrots – and trust us, it’s not easy to beat the impressive dose of antioxidants that come with your classic variety – purple carrots are about to blow your perception out of the water. Along with a hefty dose of those disease-fighting carotenoids and eyesight-boosting vitamin A that orange carrots have, purple carrots also have the powerhouse antioxidants known as anthocyanins, which as we unpacked above, contribute to a lower risk for disease and a healthier body. But purple carrots are also rich in other antioxidants like cinnamic acid and chlorogenic acid too, both of which are known to decrease the risk for heart disease and obesity. These carrots leave other varieties in the dust when it comes to antioxidant concentration, so a little goes a long way.
Also known as purple or forbidden rice, black rice is a rich source of anthocyanins, unlike your typical white or brown rice varieties. Along with the usual suspects of fibre, iron and magnesium that you tend to find in whole grains, you’ll also get an impressive anti-inflammatory kick. In fact, the anthocyanins in black rice have been found to combat the growth of cancer cells, with some test-tube research showing it can kill cancerous cells. Enjoy this tasty alternative to your usual choice of rice in pilafs, salads and soups – you’ll find it adds a vibrant colour and a richer taste.
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