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Eat the Rainbow: The Health Benefits of Purple Foods

Updated: Jun 11, 2023

Looking to improve your mood and increase your brain cognition? Add more purple foods to your diet! Their natural phytonutrients can improve your mental health in a number of ways.

Why should you eat the rainbow?

You’ve likely heard the advice to “eat the rainbow.” But what does that actually mean?

It means that your diet should be filled with a wide range of vibrant fresh edible plants.

There are so many benefits to a plant-based diet. The challenge is, while we know fruits and vegetables are linked to countless health benefits, hardly any of us are getting the recommended daily amount. And if you are eating plenty of fruits and veggies, it’s very likely that you’re not eating enough from the purple or blue category.

Each color is associated with a different health benefit. Why? There are naturally occurring nutrients in the plants that give them their colors. These nutrients have a variety of benefits to our bodies.

Purple and blue foods:

You might not know this looking at your local grocery store -- but there are lots of purple and blue foods for you to include in your diet.

  • Purple kale

  • Purple cauliflower

  • Purple Brussel sprouts

  • Turnips

  • Beetroot

  • Purple carrots

  • Purple bell peppers

  • Purple sweet potatoes

  • Eggplant

  • Purple grapes

  • Plums

  • Blueberries

  • Blackberries

  • Prunes

  • Figs

  • Raisins

The antioxidant called anthocyanin gives these plants their blue-purple colors.

Purple and blue foods are brain food

Purple foods contain polyphenols which are known to improve mood and brain function. They’re full of antioxidants that protect the brain and nervous system from oxidative stress and inflammation.

Oxidative stress occurs when your body has more free radicals (unpaired electrons) than antioxidants in the body. If these electrons remain unpaired they can cause harm to your body. While traveling through your body looking for a pair, causing damage to other cells while they search.

Oxidative stress can manifest itself either physically or psycho-emotionally. The psycho emotional stress can, in turn, cause physical stress on the body.

The antioxidants from these foods help prevent this damage from occurring by pairing up with the free radicals.

Additionally the antioxidant resveratrol in this food group can help protect against disease, especially those that occur as we age. The brain needs good blood flow in order to deliver healthy metabolites to its tissues. A 2010 study found that resveratrol increased cerebral blood flow.

Where can you find purple foods?

I know what you’re probably thinking. Holli, when was the last time you saw purple brussel sprouts or cauliflower at the grocery store?

This is part of the challenge with our society--it’s become even more challenging to find these items because they’re less popular. If you’ve been following my Instagram stories, you’ll know that we grew purple brussel sprouts in our garden this year.

If your local market doesn’t carry enough purple variety for you, you can try subscribing to a crop share box from a local farm. Or, better yet, try your hand at growing them in your own garden, or belong to a CSA. You’d be surprised as to how much variety is missing in the grocery store. I promise you, it’ll be a worthwhile effort.

Want more guidance on how to incorporate the rainbow of foods into your diet, schedule a complimentary chat with me?


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