Purple foods and snacks contain anthocyanin pigments that give them their vibrant color. Anthocyanins are antioxidants with potential health benefits. In this article, we’ll explore the many delicious and nutritious purple foods you can add to your diet.
Many fruits contain anthocyanins and turn purple, red, or blue when ripe. Some delicious and healthy purple fruits include:
- Purple grapes
- Purple figs
- Purple passionfruit
- Purple asian pears
- Raisins (dried purple grapes)
These fruits are packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and beneficial plant compounds like anthocyanins. Enjoy them fresh, frozen, dried, or baked into desserts.
Many purple vegetables are featured in global cuisines. Some nutritious purple veggies include:
- Purple potatoes
- Purple carrots
- Purple cabbage
- Purple cauliflower
- Purple kohlrabi
- Purple asparagus
- Purple bell peppers
- Purple onions
- Purple garlic
- Purple Brussels sprouts
These vegetables provide fiber, vitamins, minerals, and beneficial plant compounds. Enjoy them roasted, sautéed, steamed, or blended into soups.
Certain ancient grains and rice varieties also have purple hues. Try these colorful grains:
- Purple corn
- Purple barley
- Black rice
- Purple wheat berries
These grains provide protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Use them in pilafs, salads, baked goods, and porridge.
Beans, Legumes, and Nuts
Certain beans, legumes, and nuts also provide purple color along with protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals:
- Purple hull peas
- Purple string beans
- Purple okra
- Purple podded pole beans
- Purple lima beans
- Red lentils
- Black soybeans
- Black walnuts
Incorporate these into soups, stews, sautés, salads, and snacks.
Herbs, Spices, and Condiments
Some purple herbs, spices, and condiments can add flavor and color to your dishes:
- Purple basil
- Purple sage
- Purple shiso
- Purple passionflower
- Pickled purple cabbage
- Plum sauce
- Umeboshi (pickled ume fruit)
Use these to season and garnish everything from grains to proteins to veggies.
Quench your thirst with these antioxidant-rich purple beverages:
- Purple grape juice
- Blackcurrant juice
- Plum juice
- Elderberry juice
- Purple carrot juice
- Purple sweet potato smoothies
- Lavender tea
- Butterfly pea flower tea
- Rosehip tea
Sip these for a dose of hydration and antioxidants.
Indulge your sweet tooth with these naturally purple treats:
- Blackberry cobbler
- Blueberry muffins
- Ube ice cream
- Purple sweet potato pie
- Plum tarts
- Black sesame seed balls
- Lavender cookies
- Butterfly pea flower cupcakes
- Raisin oatmeal cookies
The anthocyanins in these desserts provide antioxidant benefits to help curb your cravings.
The Benefits of Purple Foods
Beyond eye appeal, the anthocyanin pigments that make foods purple provide some excellent health benefits. Research suggests anthocyanins may:
- Have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects
- Protect cells from damage
- Reduce risk of heart disease
- Reduce risk of certain cancers
- Improve brain function
- Reduce risk of diabetes
- Enhance vision
- Promote healthy aging
To enjoy these perks, make sure to include purple fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, legumes, and beverages as part of a healthy, balanced diet.
12 Purple Foods Table
Here is a helpful table summarizing 12 nutritious purple foods, their potential health benefits, and how to eat them:
|Purple Food||Benefits||Ways to Eat|
|Blueberries||Antioxidants, vitamin C, manganese||Raw, baked, smoothies|
|Purple cabbage||Vitamin C, anthocyanins, fiber||Coleslaw, sautéed, stir fry|
|Blackberries||Antioxidants, fiber, vitamins||Raw, jams, baked goods|
|Purple sweet potatoes||Vitamin A, vitamin C, anthocyanins||Baked, mashed, fried, soup|
|Purple carrots||Beta-carotene, vitamin K||Roasted, juices, baked|
|Eggplant||Fiber, vitamin C, anthocyanins||Grilled, baked, stir fry|
|Purple grapes||Vitamins C and K, resveratrol||Raw, jams, baked goods|
|Plums||Vitamin C, anthocyanins||Fresh, dried, baked|
|Purple potatoes||Vitamins C and B6, potassium||Roasted, mashed, fried|
|Blackberries||Vitamin C, fiber, manganese||Raw, smoothies, pies|
|Purple barley||Fiber, protein, minerals||Salads, pilafs, soups|
|Purple kale||Vitamins A, C, and K||Sautéed, smoothies, salads|
Incorporating More Purple
It’s easy to add more purple nutrition to your diet. Here are some delicious ways to eat and drink purple:
- Start your day with a blueberry muffin or blackberry smoothie
- Make a salad with purple cabbage, grapes, and black beans
- Roast purple potatoes, carrots, onions, and garlic for a colorful side
- Simmer up a stew with purple carrots, potatoes, cabbage, and lentils
- Enjoy ube ice cream, black sesame balls, or blueberry cobbler for dessert
- Sip on purple sweet potato smoothies, elderberry juice, and lavender tea
- Add purple shiso, basil, or sage to your soups, grains, veggies, and proteins
- Use purple cabbage, onions, or passionfruit in sauces and dressings
With so many purple options, you can easily put more purple on your plate and reap the antioxidant benefits.
Potential Drawbacks of Purple Foods
Purple plant foods are healthy, but a few things to keep in mind:
- The anthocyanin content varies widely depending on the specific plant variety, soil health, time of harvest, storage conditions, and cooking methods.
- Some sources like purple potatoes and corn provide fewer anthocyanins than deeply pigmented fruits like blueberries.
- The health benefits of anthocyanins depend on absorbing them from the digestive tract into the bloodstream.
- Some people may be sensitive or allergic to certain purple foods like blackberries or eggplant.
- Overconsumption of fruits and veggies high in oxalic acid like purple starches and legumes may be problematic for those prone to kidney stones.
- As with any food, purple plants are best enjoyed in moderation as part of an overall nutritious diet.
Purple foods containing anthocyanin antioxidants provide great health benefits. Fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, herbs, and beverages in hues from lavender to eggplant are nutritious additions to your diet. Load up on fiber, vitamins, and minerals from delicious purple options to enhance your antioxidant intake. With so many purple foods to choose from, you can easily infuse the colors of health into every meal.