Purple fruits and vegetables get their distinctive colour from the anthocyanins present in them, and which give this category of foods their nutrient power.
Like other phytonutrients, the body doesn’t need them to work, but they do help protect the cells from damage that can lead to illness and disease. And that’s on top of any other health benefits you’ll get from eating these foods. Listed below are some of the most popular purple colour fruits and vegetables.
Purple plum skins are packed with antioxidants. They’re one of the first purple foods people think of. And the more colour in the fruit, the more of those anthocyanins. Riper fruits will also have more usable nutrients. The peel could have as much as 20 times the antioxidants as the flesh inside.
Red, purple, and blue berries are good for the brain and mood. Though anthocyanins are linked to the colour purple, the pigments can range from red to blue. Blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, bilberries, black currants, and mulberries all have similar properties. They may boost your brainpower and your mood, according to studies of kids and adults using blueberries. Scientists think the anthocyanins help the brain cells talk to each other.
Purple potatoes have two to three times more antioxidants than white potatoes.
Try the ones with purple skin and flesh. Besides anthocyanins, they have two-to-three times the total antioxidants of a typical white potato, which is loaded with potassium, magnesium, vitamin C, and fiber.
Red cherries are of great benefit to the blood vessels and joints. The anthocyanins that give them their dark rich colour may help lower the blood pressure and keep blood vessels healthy and soft. They also seem to help with joint problems like osteoarthritis and gout, a painful condition whereby crystals gather in the feet or ankles. And cherries are bursting with nutrients that together may help prevent cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
Grape skins are full of beneficial resveratrol. The anthocyanins of grapes can run from red to black. These juicy gems are known for having resveratrol, which has gotten a lot of attention for being part of a group of nutrients that work together to help protect your cells from damage that can lead to disease. The skins of grapes give red wine its colour — and its resveratrol.
Purple cauliflower is rich in anthocyanins. Just a single gene tells a cauliflower to gather more anthocyanins into its tissues, turning this normally white vegetable purple. Otherwise, it’s like the stuff you already know: rich in phytonutrients, vitamin C, and minerals. Steam, stir-fry, or microwave or eat it raw, to preserve the most nutrients.
Purple carrots have beta-carotene, carotenoids and anthocyanins. You can find them at popular super malls like Shoprite, Spar and the others. Try them roasted, pickled, or broiled. You’ll get their extra anthocyanins as well as the beta-carotene and other carotenoids found in orange carrots that may help stop cancer and improve your immune system.
Cooking cabbage makes it more digestible. It may be easier for your body to use its anthocyanins when you cook it. And when you ferment cabbage to make sauerkraut or kimchi, you’ll get natural probiotics that nourish the bacteria in your gut – your “microbiome.” These help your body fight germs, absorb nutrients, digest food, and even control anxiety.
Beets are rich in antioxidants called betalains. Their colour comes from different antioxidants called betalains instead. You’ll also find these red and yellow pigments in the stems of chard and rhubarb, as well as some mushrooms and fungi. They break down more easily when you cook them than anthocyanins do, so try steaming rather than roasting. Beets will add sweetness and a beautiful purplish-red colour to your smoothies. These veggies are good for your heart, brain, and blood sugar.
Purple icing with antocyanins is a better alternative to icing made with artificial colouring. No, the colour of processed foods like cakes and candies doesn’t mean the same things it does in fresh fruits and vegetables. But anthocyanins are often used to give dark colour to other foods like blue corn chips, soft drinks, and jellies. The amount may not be enough to change your health for the better, yet they can be a safe choice if you want to avoid artificial dyes.
• Adapted from medicinenet.com