Purple fruits and vegetables aren’t just novelties – they’re nutritional powerhouses! They’re rich in anthocyanins — natural plant pigments that give them their distinctive color. In fact, purple-blue foods are among the most concentrated sources of these compounds. Studies show that anthocyanins may benefit brain health, help fight inflammation, cancer and heart disease and may even protect against weight gain.
Here are some purple gems that you should add to your plate:
You may be familiar with white cauliflower, but purple cauliflower is a must-try and it is in season right now. Cauliflower is part of the cruciferous vegetable family that is known to have powerful cancer-fighting properties.Plus, the purple variety has the health benefits of anthocyanins that contribute to its vibrant color. And with just 20 calories per cup, it’s kind to your waistline too!
Ways to Enjoy: Purple cauliflower is perfect in salads or roasted as a side dish (just drizzle with olive oil and season). I also love it in stir-fry dishes and soups.
Though similar in taste to white and green asparagus, purple asparagus is more nutritious. It’s loaded with vitamin C and a serving (5 spears) has just 20 calories and 4 grams of protein. The purple variety contains two primary anthocyanins and has strong antioxidant scores.
Ways to Enjoy: Asparagus is easy to prepare. Steam for 10 minutes or until just tender and season, or drizzle with olive oil and salt and roast for 20 minutes. Asparagus also adds texture and flavor to soups and salads. For a healthy and delicious lunch, try this Asparagus and Avocado Wrap.
Pump up the power of potatoes with the purple variety. Like all potatoes, purple spuds are rich in potassium, vitamin C, and filling fiber. But research shows that purple potatoes have have two to four times the antioxidants of their white counterparts.
One study found that people who ate two servings of purple potatoes daily lowered their diastolic blood pressure by 4.3% and the systolic pressure decreased by 3.5% without gaining any weight. The researchers credited the beneficial results to the boost of antioxidants in the purple veggie.
Ways to Enjoy: Use purple as you would white or sweet potatoes – roasted, baked, in soups. Have a potato fiesta with this tasty and eye-catching Rainbow Potato Roast.
If you love grapes, make sure you’re choosing ones with purple power: Concord grapes! Unlike other types of grapes, the thick deep purple skin and crunchy seeds of Concord grapes are concentrated sources of beneficial polyphenols, including anthocyanins. A half-cup of Concord grapes has just 30 calories and contributes manganese, vitamin K, potassium, certain B vitamins and vitamin C to your diet. Two decades of research shows that 100% grape juice made with purple Concord grapes helps support a healthy heart, and preliminary evidence suggests it may provide mind health and memory benefits too.
Ways to Enjoy: Concord grapes are ideal as a snack or in salads. You can also use 100% grape juice in a sauce or dressing refreshing, or in a “mocktail” like this Grapeade. It can also be a good stand-in for red wine as a toast, in beef burgundy, or sangria.