Eat a Rainbow of Purple and Blue Food
By Dietitian, Juliette Kellow BSc RD
Blackberries, blueberries, black grapes, beetroot, blackcurrants, purple plums, figs, prunes, raisins, red cabbage, aubergine.
Lowering the risk of heart disease and some cancers, preventing age-related memory loss, keeping the eyes and urinary tract healthy and lowering the risk of gum disease and stomach ulcers.
Why Should I Eat Them?
According to data from the well respected National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), people who eat purple and blue food have a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes and metabolic syndrome, which is a precursor for Type 2 Diabetes. Plus they have lower blood pressure and smaller waist circumferences.
But the health benefits of blue and purple food don’t just stop there. It’s the anthocyanins that are typically found in purple, blue and dark red foods that appear to act as health heroes. Other research has shown that these anthocyanins can help to prevent unpleasant and painful urinary tract infections (UTI’s) such as cystitis by stopping bacteria like E.coli from sticking to the urinary tract wall.
Anthocyanins have been found to act against the bacteria that cause stomach ulcers and gum disease. Plus, several laboratory-based studies have revealed that anthocyanins can help to lower the risk of colon cancer.
Good intakes of anthocyanins have also been linked to improving balance, co-ordination and short-term memory in old age, and better vision, although more human research needs to be carried out to confirm these findings. There’s even been research carried out in mice to suggest that anthocyanins might help to prevent obesity – mice fed a high-fat diet together with anthocyanins extracted from blueberries and strawberries gained less weight and had lower levels of body fat than mice fed a control diet.
However, the results weren’t the same when whole berries (rather than extracts) were fed to the mice, so more research is certainly needed before any definitive conclusions can be made on the role berries may play in weight control.
Finally, many red, blue and purple foods also contain ellagic acid, a phytochemical that may prevent cancer as well as lowering cholesterol levels.
How To Eat More Purple and Blue Food...
- Add a handful of blueberries or blackberries or a tablespoon of raisins to breakfast cereals or porridge
- Make a superfood smoothie by whizzing blackberries and blueberries in a blender
- Stew some purple plums and swirl into low-fat natural yogurt for a delicious dessert
- Choose black grapes rather than green grapes for nibbling on
- Make a healthy coleslaw using grated carrot, thinly sliced onion, shredded red cabbage and a few raisins – mix with low-fat natural yogurt and a little low-fat mayo to keep the calories down
- Add aubergine to the meat mixture for lasagne
- Make a homemade ratatouille and include plenty of aubergine – simply serve with brown rice and sprinkle with Parmesan for a low-fat dinner
- Make a delicious dessert by setting blueberries and blackberries in a sugar-free raspberry jelly and serve with a dollop of fat-free Greek yogurt
- Serve Sunday lunch with steamed red cabbage
- Swap your usual sandwich filling for low-fat soft cheese and blueberries – it might sound strange but it’s a classic combo
- Add beetroot to salads or sandwiches.
To find out more:
Want delicious recipes to help you get purple and blue food into your diet? Use the WLR Recipe Database to get inspiration and the WLR Food Diary to track your intake. Try it free for 24 hours.