In the world of fruit and vegetables, there is a definite hierarchy of popularity which determines what exactly we buy when out food shopping. Typically in most baskets and trolleys, you’ve got apples, pears, potatoes amongst your ‘classic’ staple five a day, but there is one grouping of fruit and vegetables that for years has gone under-appreciated and (more crucially) under consumed.
Known together as ‘purple superfoods’ thanks to their colouring and incredible nutritional value, this grouping consists of foods such as blueberries, aubergines, red cabbage, and beetroot amongst others.
Although perhaps not as attractive as more brightly coloured ingredients, the reason for the comparatively muted bluish-purple colour is due to the presence of antioxidants within the plants. Absolutely integral to the body, antioxidants are prized by experts within the farming industry, who have pointed out that a sole cup of foods containing these can ‘speed up your metabolism, whilst lowering your blood pressure’.
Capable of breaking down more harmful molecules (known as ‘free radicals’) within the body, antioxidants are key in ensuring the health of the entire body, from the eyes down the prostate. With every cell in the body producing these damaging free radicals, it comes as no surprise that the NHS has long advocated for people to eat more foods with a large supply of antioxidants. Furthermore, that’s not even to mention the rich level of high-quality nutrients that can be found within purple superfoods. Vitamins of all sorts can be had from even the smallest portion of these natural treasures, and go a tremendous way in fighting against all forms of diseases. Aubergines for example can do wonders for your iron levels, containing ‘Nasunin’, which maintains existing blood vessels as strong and healthy, whilst restricting the growth of new cells that could go rogue and lead to health complications. Being full of fibre and with a low quantity of fat makes this an ingredient suitable for those with dietary issues such as diabetes. Purple superfoods are indeed incredibly useful in such a case, and are virtually suitable for even the most restrictive of diets.
Indeed communities around the world have long valued purple coloured foods as an integral part of their diet. On the island of Okinawa, near Japan, residents have one of the highest life expectancies anywhere on the planet, thanks to the copious amounts of purple sweet potato they consume. Thanks to the ‘Anthocynins’ within, these potatoes have been found to be excellent at stimulating blood flow and keeping grey matter healthy. It’s not uncommon for the citizens of Okinawa to live to 100 and in good health, accustomed as they are to very frequent helpings of rich purple super-foods.
Last but by no means least, it should be taken into account that purple super-foods of all types quite simply taste good, even delicious in the right hands. True, they may not at first appear to be the most aesthetically pleasing, but with a little culinary persistence, there are countless exciting recipes that can be put together with these foods as an accompaniment, or even as the centre-piece of the meal. More and more vegans and vegetarians have come to rely on these foods as a core source of nutrients, but meat eaters too should not be averse. When we consider that within the UK some fruits are thrown away 25% of the time, perhaps it is time for a change up in the kitchen? A little experimentation can go a long way, and provide you with not only a tasty dish, but one that can do incredible things for your overall health.
This article was contributed by Justin Fox, a writer and food enthusiast from Distinctly, in Hertfordshire