Eating brightly colored foods is an easy and fun way to make sure you’re consuming a diverse array of nutrients and vitamins. Adding purple vegetables and fruits to every meal not only increases the nutritional content, it also makes eating more fun.
While some fruits and vegetables are purely purple of their own accord – such as blackberries and eggplant – some have been purposefully bred to be purple by nature, traditional agriculture, or selective breeding.
Why are purple foods so healthy?
Purple vegetables and fruits contain compounds called anthocyanins, which give foods the royal hue – anywhere from deep red-orange to striking violet to beautiful blue. Breeding plants with anthocyanins creates purple cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, potatoes and cabbage. Plants that contain anthocyanins are better protected against damage from sunlight, and the color also attracts bees and other pollinators.
Research suggests that anthocyanins may help protect cells, heal the body, decrease inflammation, and lower the risk of heart disease and cancer. Purple cauliflower, broccoli, kale, and red cabbage also contain indoles, nutrients derived from sulfur compounds that may slow the metabolism of carcinogens. Berries are good sources of ellagic acid, a phytochemical that may also help protect cell integrity.
In addition to the anthocyanins, indoles and ellagic acid, these purple vegetables and fruits also contain all the expected nutritional components of fresh produce – such as vitamin A, B2, C, dietary fiber, potassium, and other phenols.
What’s the best way to cook purple vegetables and fruits?
Because anthocyanins are water-soluble (able to dissolve in water), you’ll get the biggest bang for your buck when you eat them raw, steamed, or roasted. Most purple vegetables are easy to prepare – just use them as you would their paler cousins. Toss berries into breakfast dishes, lunchtime salads, and desserts. Drizzle chopped veggies with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, toss to coat – and then roast in a 425 degree Fahrenheit oven for 15-20 minutes for an easy roasted side dish.
The Ultimate List of Purple Vegetables & Fruits – How Many Have You Tried?
The Usual Suspects:
- Red Onions
- Red Cabbage
- Red Lettuce
- Swiss Chard
Getting Weirder – Seasonal Delights:
- Black Currants
- Açai Berries (you can only find these frozen in the U.S.)
- Purple Potatoes
- Purple Cauliflower
- Red Kale
- Purple Carrots
- Purple Bell Peppers
- Purple Broccoli
- Purple Artichokes
- Purple Asparagus
On the Wild Side – Best Found at Farmers Markets:
- Purple Kohlrabi
- Purple Sweet Potatoes
- Purple Snow Peas
- Chinese Long Beans
- Purple Okra
- Purple Green Onions
- Edible Lavender
- Edible Purple Violets
Make it your mission to try every purple food on this list before the summer is over – or at least keep an eye out for new purple produce that you can use to perk up your plate.
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