The snow is finally melting, the trees are budding, and my excitement for spring is building. This is the time of year for growth! Farmers’ markets will soon be here and fresh, affordable produce will be abundant. All the smells and colors engage my senses. Now’s the time to “taste the rainbow,” figuratively speaking.
Purple plate, healthy heart
Purple produce is often overlooked, but there’s a huge benefit to branching out from your favorite greens. Each fruit and veggie contains a unique cocktail of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that give them their special characteristics.
Anthocyanins, provide certain produce their shades of purple, blue, or deep red. But a pretty purple isn’t the only benefit – anthocyanins are good for us, too!
Nutrition is medicine
We all know that vitamins and minerals offer health benefits. But phytochemicals (including those found in purple food) fall under another nutritive category and have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
What does that mean for us? Antioxidants prevent free radicals from attacking our cells. Oxidation causes damage or even death to cell membranes. Consequently, antioxidants strengthen our cells, which make up tissues, veins, arteries, et cetera.
As a result, phytochemicals are said to help prevent cardiovascular diseases and hypertension. Also on the list of benefits, they may help: regulate hormones, boost the immune system, promote liver function, and treat vision disorders.
Give me the goods
Where can you get your hands on these yummy little nutrition bombs? Here is a list of my favorite foods with purple power:
- Purple carrots – carrots were genetically bred to have the orange color that you’re familiar with today. But they’re still seasonably available in their original purple. Don’t worry, they taste the same as normal, orange carrots.
- Plums – these fellas are packed with fiber, and are commonly known for their laxative effect.
- Eggplant – believe it or not, eggplant is not made from eggs. It’s also not a vegetable – it’s a fruit! And it’s wonderful in Ratatouille (the recipe, not the movie).
- Red cabbage – highly sensitive to pH changes, red cabbage is actually used to help test the acidity of foods during preparation. It turns blue when it becomes more basic, so if you want it to stay a pretty red color, add a splash of orange or lemon juice while cooking.
- Blackberries – there are roughly 375 species of blackberries. Coincidentally, there are 375 different species of bears in the world. Just kidding – there’s eight.