NUTRITIOUS PURPLE FOODS: Types & Facts

Nutritious purple foods are the talk of the town, all thanks to the very high concentration of phytochemicals that are present in them. Research has shown that foods that have a natural purple color offer many health benefits.

We know that many fruits have a purple color, but there are many other purple-colored foods with lots of health benefits, including grains and vegetables. In this article, we will look at several nutritious purple foods, foods whose taste and nutritional benefits corresponds with their visual appeal.

BLACKBERRIES

Nutritious purple foods Blackberries

Everyone knows that blackberries are among the many purple foods that we have. Blackberries have a lot of nutrients and anthocyanin pigments in them.

Anthocyanins are polyphenol compounds that are responsible for the red, blue, or purple color of foods. They are present in very high concentrations in the other grains, vegetables, and fruits that are listed in this article.

Anthocyanins are potent antioxidants. They act as anti-inflammatory agents and protect the cells of our body from damage. Inflammation causes negative health effects in many cases.

Anthocyanins act as health boosters in several ways. When you eat foods loaded with anthocyanins, foods like blackberries, your body will be protected against chronic health conditions such as heart disease, cancers, and diabetes (1).

Blackberries also have micronutrients and fiber in them. Micronutrients that can be found in blackberries include folate, vitamin C, manganese, potassium, and magnesium. These nutrients qualify blackberries as nutritious purple foods. You’ll find them a sweet, and tasty treat (2).

BLACK RICE

Nutritious purple foods black rice

The botanical name for black rice is Oryza sativa L. indica. It is known informally as “forbidden rice.” So why do we say that it is a nutritious purple food when the name says suggests it is “black?” Well, for the records, black rice assumes a deep purple color when you cook it (3).

Black rice falls among nutritious purple foods because it is rich in anthocyanins, which have anti-cancer properties.

Animal and test-tube studies have shown that the anthocyanins in black rice inhibit the growth of cancer cells and cause these cells to die off (4, 5).Oryza sativa L. indica makes a perfect substitution for brown or white rice and works well in several recipes, such as pilafs, stir-fries, and soups.

PURPLE SWEET POTATOES

Nutritious purple foods purple sweet potatoes
Photo Credit: Parade

Sweet potatoes are rich in nutrients, furnishing the body with many minerals and vitamins, including potassium, vitamin C, B vitamins, and provitamin A. also, purple sweet potatoes are loaded with anthocyanin antioxidants (6).

Animal and test-tube studies have shown that purple sweet potatoes can fight against some types of cancer, obesity, and inflammation (7, 8, 9).

Purple sweet potatoes also serve as a substitute for the regular orange-fleshed sweet potatoes.

EGGPLANT

Nutritious purple foods eggplant
Photo Credit: Health Magazine

Eggplants may present in many colors. However, the most common among them are the purple-skinned ones.

Eggplants may not contain many nutrients as other foods listed in this article, but they are rich in manganese and antioxidants, a mineral that plays a very important role in metabolism and bone health (10).

Eggplant is listed as one of the nutritious purple foods because of its rich concentration of anthocyanin nasunin, a phytochemical that has heart-protective and anti-inflammatory properties (11, 12).

PURPLE CAULIFLOWER

purple cauliflower

The botanical name for purple cauliflower is Brassica oleracea var. botrytis. This cruciferous vegetable is visually appealing. It is rich in anthocyanins, quite unlike the white varieties. The purple hue in purple cauliflower is due to a genetic mutation (13).

Purple cauliflower gives your dish that appealing color. It also has anti-inflammatory properties and can protect against some forms of cancer, such as colorectal cancer (14, 15). A diet rich in cruciferous vegetables reduces your risk of heart disease and can also boost your overall longevity (16, 17).

PURPLE CARROTS

nutritious purple foods purple carrots

Purple carrots have a sweet taste and crunchy texture. They contain many polyphenol antioxidants, such as cinnamic acid, chlorogenic acid, and anthocyanins.

Studies have shown that people who eat foods rich in polyphenol have low rates of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, compared to those whose diets are low in antioxidants (18, 19). Purple carrots are loaded with polyphenols. Their polyphenol content is much more than that in other carrot varieties. Little wonder then why they’re classified among nutritious purple foods (20).

REDBOR KALE

redbore kale
Photo Credit: Good Eggs

Kale contains many nutrients. It is known as a nutritional powerhouse. A particular study showed that the extract of Redbor kale contained no less than 47 potent phytochemicals, including p-coumaric acid, quercetin, and kaempferol (21).

Because of its fine texture and distinctive color, Redbore kale works well as a decorative plant to boost the visual appeal of planters and gardens. What you should also know is that Redbore kale is also nutritious and highly edible. You can use it in different recipes like other leafy greens.

PASSION FRUIT

Passion fruit

Passion fruit is known as Passiflora edulis in botanical terms. This vine which grows in the tropics is cultivated because of the deliciousness of its fruit. Ripe passion fruits have a purple or yellow rind that surrounds the soft, sweet flesh filled with seeds that are quite crunchy.

Passion fruit contains piceatannol, a polyphenol antioxidant. Piceatannol has many health benefits and plays a special role in promoting skin health. For instance, a study has shown that extract of piceatannol from passion fruit protects the cells of the skin from sun damage. Also, a study involving 32 women with dry skin showed that intake of 5mg of piceatannol for 8 weeks increased moisture in the skin (22, 23).

PURPLE MANGOSTEEN

purple mangosteen
Photo Credit: Global Food Book

Mangosteen is a fruit of the tree Garcinia mangostana. This tree has been cultivated since ancient times.

The outer rind of mangosteens has a deep purple tone and a tough texture. To enjoy the fruit on the inside, you must remove this rind.

Mangosteens are rich in folate and fiber. Folate is a B vitamin that helps out with many important body processes, including red blood cells and DNA production (24). Another reason why purple mangosteens are classified among nutritious purple foods is that they provide neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer effects in certain studies (25).

PURPLE ASPARAGUS

Purple asparagus nutritious purple foods
Photo Credit: Flick on Food

Asparagus has a characteristic green color, but it also presents in other hues, which includes purple and white.

Purple asparagus has many nutritious benefits, providing minerals, vitamins, and potent phytochemicals. It is also rich in anthocyanins.

Purple asparagus has the richest content of rutin, a polyphenol with very potent anticancer and heart-protective properties (26, 27, 28).

ACAI BERRIES

Acai berries

Acai berries are purple fruits with a load of antioxidants such as anthocyanins.

You may incorporate acai berries into various recipes, such as acai bowls. They could also be made into powders, juices, and supplements for medicinal uses. Acai bowls have many health benefits. They increase the antioxidant content of blood, and also improve blood sugar and cholesterol levels (29, 30).

PURPLE STAR APPLE

purple star apple

Chrysophyllum cainito is the botanical name for the purple star apple. The fruits of this tree turn purple when ripe. The flesh is sweet and secretes a milky juice that has a star shape when cut.

The bark, leaves, and fruit of the star apple have been used for the treatment of various ailments such as diabetes, pain, and cough (31). Purple star apple is rich in antioxidants. Animal studies have shown that they protect the digestive system (32, 33).

PURPLE CABBAGE

purple nutritious foods cabbage

Cabbage is generally nutritious. The purple cabbage, also referred to as red cabbage is loaded with anthocyanins, which makes this cruciferous vegetable healthier higher (34).

Purple cabbage contains provitamin A, fiber, and vitamin C. its anti-inflammatory effects are very high. This is attributed to the potent phytochemicals that are present in its leaves (35, 36).

You may use purple cabbage just like you would the green cabbage. It is good when used in slaws, stir-fries, and stews.

Other nutritious purple foods include:

  • Purple barely
  • Red dragon fruit
  • Elderberries

THE SUMMARY

Foods with purple pigment are very healthy and add color to your diet.

Adding these foods to your daily meal plan will boost your body’s antioxidant levels. The levels of other nutrients will also improve.

Ensure you add some of these vegetables, and fruits to your next snack or meal so you can derive the full benefit of their healthiness.

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