Eating the rainbow - what are the benefits of blue and purple plant foods?March 31, 2023
Curious about the health benefits of phytonutrients from vibrant purple and blue fruit and vegetables?
When it comes to eating a healthy diet, there’s no reason why it can’t also look appetising. In fact, making your plate as vibrant and pleasing to the eye as possible is one major way to boost your intake of vitamins, minerals and powerful plant compounds called phytonutrients that boost the body’s natural antioxidant defence system. Phytonutrients not only imbue foods with every colour of the rainbow but also provide their flavour, smell and many of their health benefits. Blue and purple plant foods contain a unique profile of phytonutrients that can support your health in some surprising ways.
Keep scrolling to learn about the benefits of including more blue and purple plant foods on your plate.
What are the benefits of blue and purple fruits, vegetables and spices?
Foods with a dark blue, purple and almost black hue are rich in the phytonutrients anthocyanins and resveratrol. These two phytonutrients are powerful antioxidants that protect the body from the damaging effects of free radicals caused by stress, poor diet, pollution and lifestyle factors like smoking.
Resveratrol is well-known for giving red wine its antioxidant status, but there are plenty of ways to enjoy resveratrol without the hangover! Resveratrol is most famous for its role in anti-ageing (including preventing wrinkles), as well as supporting heart health.1
Anthocyanins promote healthy blood sugar levels, protect the heart and brain and have even been linked to better memory and cognition.2 3 If you’re looking for more ways to support your immunity and protect against infection, try including more blue and purple fruit and vegetables - anthocyanins help to fight infections such as Staphylococcus aureus. Certain phytonutrients such as anthocyanins also act as prebiotic fibre - a type of fibre that helps to boost beneficial gut bacteria that help to lower inflammation and improve digestion.4
Enjoy one to two serves of any of these foods every day for optimal health:
- Acai berries
- Purple grapes
- Black/purple rice
- Purple potatoes
- Purple cauliflower
- Purple carrots
- Purple cabbage
- Blue corn
- Black olives
- Butterfly pea flower tea
- Elderberry tea
- Lavender tea
- Passionflower tea
Ways to include more blue and purple plant foods in your diet
Including some of these foods in your daily meals doesn’t have to be difficult - you probably already eat many dishes that include one or two of the above.
- Frozen blueberry or acai berry smoothie with coconut yoghurt, almond milk and protein powder
- Eggplant curry with black rice
- A side dish of roasted purple carrots with garlic and dukkah
- Stir fry of purple cauliflower, purple cabbage, organic tofu and mixed veggies
- A snack of figs and purple grapes
- Calming lavender and passionflower blend tea before bed.
Learn more about the benefits of green, red, yellow/orange, and white plant foods over at the blog.
- Zhou, D.D., Luo, M., Huang, S.Y., Saimaiti, A., Shang, A., et al. (2021). Effects and mechanisms of resveratrol on aging and age-related diseases. Oxid Med Cell Longev, 2021: 9932218. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8289612/
- Lee, Y.M., Young, Y., Yoon, H., Park, H.M., Song, S., et al. (2017). Dietary anthocyanins against obesity and inflammation. Nutrients, 9(10): 1089. https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/9/10/1089
- Kent, K., Yousefi, M., do Rosario, V.A., Fitzgerald, Z., Broyd, S., et al. (2022). Anthocyanin intake is associated with improved memory in older adults with mild cognitive impairment. Nutrition Research, 104: 36-43. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0271531722000409#
- Speer, H., D’Cunha, N.M., Alexopoulos, N.I., McKune, A.J. & Naumovski, N. (2020). Anthocyanins and human health - a focus on oxidative stress, inflammation and disease. Antioxidants (Basel), 9(5): 366. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7278778/#B34-antioxidants-09-00366