Purple foods’ talents go far beyond their ability to brighten up a dish. They pack a punch in the nutrients and antioxidants department, too!
The distinct purple color comes from anthocyanins, a health-boosting antioxidant. In fact, the deeper-darker the purple, the higher the antioxidant content, according to Geeta Sidhu-Robb, nutrition expert and founder of founder of Nosh Detox.
Studies back this up. Research shows foods bearing the royal color have a wealth of health benefits, including:
- Cancer killer. Resveratol, a type of natural phenol, is present in purple grapes, blueberries and red wine. It has shown promising results in studies designed to induce cancer cell death.
- Obesity control. Studies have shown high levels of anthocyanins in purple foods such as purple sweet potatoes help control levels of leptin, the obesity hormone.
- Reduced liver damage. Anthoncyanins found in purple foods have been known to reduce damage to the liver, which can be caused by a variety of reasons.
- Improved heart health. Anthoncyanins can help play a pivotal role in protecting the heart muscle from oxidative damage. It can also help reduce bad LDL cholesterol while improving good HDL cholesterol.
- Anti-aging. Over time, UVA and UVB light can damage our skin, causing the breakdown of collagen, which results in less elasticity. Studies show anthocyanins in purple foods help reverse UV damage and can help postpone collagen breakdown.
Sidhu-Robb’s top five purple foods:
- Purple cabbage contains more vitamin C than green cabbage. It also has high levels of vitamin A, key to supporting the body’s immune response.
- Purple potatoes. Sweet potatoes come in a variety of colors, all loaded with vitamins A and C and manganese. But the deeper colored-spuds (think purples and reds) have more antioxidants. “Take note of the color before buying,” Sidhu-Robb said.
- Purple carrots have high levels of vitamin A (found in orange carrots, too), with the added benefit of higher amounts of anthocyanins.
- Beetroots, high in vitamin C—essential in helping maintain a good, strong and healthy immune system—are also loaded with fiber and other essential minerals, including potassium, which is vital to maintaining healthy nerve and muscle function.
- Black rice may not be purple, but it’s close and it’s chock-full of iron and vitamin E, known for their anti-aging properties and ability to improve heart health.