If you’ve heard you should “eat the rainbow,” you’ve received good advice. Colorful foods are packed with important antioxidants and nutrients. Learn how you can reap the benefits from purple food powerhouses.
Purple foods contain anthocyanins, which are health-promoting chemicals that help protect cells and heal your body. Research suggests they play active roles in promoting eye and heart health, decreasing cancer cell proliferation and more. Anthocyanins are predominant in teas, honey, wines, fruits, vegetables, nuts, olive oil, cocoa and cereals.
Include these purple fruits and vegetables into your diet at least 4-5 days a week along with dark green, orange and yellow foods for maximum benefits.
Purple carrots were first grown in the Middle and Far East, along with white, red, yellow, green and black versions. They are high in anthocyanins and pro-vitamin A carotenoids, which are powerful antioxidants. They may also help with weight management and glucose control, and in one study, those with high levels of carotenoids had about half the risk of diabetes.
You can find purple carrots year-round in farmer’s markets and some grocery stores and specialty stores.
Purple cauliflower is actually a type of broccoli that is purple and turns green upon cooking. Cruciferous vegetables have been touted for their cancer-fighting powers. Cauliflower has antioxidants and sulfur compounds that help your body get rid of the toxins that can damage cells and increase the risk of cancer.
Purple cauliflower season begins in late February; it can be found in specialty grocery stores and farmers markets.
Plums and Prunes
Plums are a very good source of vitamin C, which can help with iron absorption. They are also a good source of vitamin A, vitamin B2 and potassium. In addition, plums are a good source of dietary fiber. A recent study found that regular prune consumption may decrease blood pressure and LDL (the bad) cholesterol. Additionally, both plums and prunes are full of phenols, natural compounds found in plants, which have protective properties.
Plums are available from May to October, and prunes are available year-round at grocery stores and farmers markets.
Living up to their royal hue and lineage, purple potatoes have long been considered the food of gods — 7,000 years ago they were reserved for Incan kings in their native Peru. Today, purple potatoes are now grown in thousands of varieties in the US.
According to the USDA, potatoes with the darkest colors have more than four times the antioxidant potential than other potatoes. Purple spuds score as high as Brussels sprouts, kale or spinach on the antioxidant power scale. These potatoes are also a good source of complex carbohydrates, potassium, vitamin C, folic acid and iron.
Purple potatoes are available year-round, but less so January through April. You can find them in some grocery stores and farmers markets.