Going purple: the health benefits of eggplants, plums, beetroots, and more

These include a reduced risk of cancer, stroke and heart disease, plus weight management and healthy skin and hair

Beetroot, once roasted, can be used in all meals from salad to soup to main course. Pawan Singh / The National
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It's fair to say that the colour purple is enjoying something of a resurgence. The red carpet at this week's Venice Film Festival threw up some strong pops of purple, from Amal Clooney's showstopping lilac gown to Alessandra Mastronardi's deep-purple sheath dress.

Last month, Pantone unveiled a specific shade of purple named in honour of pop icon Prince, who arguably did more to popularise the shade than any other individual in history. Named Love Symbol #2 and created by graphic designer Mitch Monson, the shade is "emblematic of Prince's distinctive style", according to Laurie Pressman, vice president of the Pantone Colour Institute.

But those who are really in the know are putting purple on their plates. The purple food trend is gathering momentum, driven by the fact that naturally purple foods are associated with a host of health benefits, due to their high nutritional density and antioxidant levels.

While most brightly coloured fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants, many purple foods contain a specific type called anthocyanin, which is found in high concentrations in blackcurrants, blackberries and blueberries, in the skin of aubergines, red cabbage, cranberries and cherries.

High anthocyanin intake has been linked to a wide range of health benefits. For example, a study of nearly 2,000 women between the ages of 18 and 76, published in The Journal of Nutrition, cconfirmed that "anthocyanin-rich foods were associated with lower insulin and inflammation levels". 

Here are some guidelines to help you include more of these superfoods into your daily diet.

  • Purple and blue fruits are among the best foods to eat for healthy and younger-looking skin. Blueberries, blackberries and plums are all rich in antioxidants, which combat the damage caused by free radicals.
  • Purple cabbage, eggplant, blackberries, black currants, purple onions and concord grapes reportedly help reduce risk of cancer. These have a natural purple pigment that contains flavonoids, including resveratrol, which helps keep blood pressure under control and boosts immunity to certain cancers.
  • Purple sweet potatoes aid digestion and have anti-inflammatory properties. They also protect against cellular damage and help heal the body's cells. 
  • Purple carrots can aid weight loss. These are high in anthocyanins and pro-vitamin A carotenoids, which are powerful antioxidants. They also help with glucose control. Blackberries can help prevent ageing and hair fall.
  • Beetroot, once roasted, can be used in all meals, from salads to soups to main courses. Beetroot soup is a great way to detox, especially when combined with figs.
  • Purple cauliflower, black rice, purple asparagus, elderberries, acai and purple corn are some of the other foods that should be added to your daily diet


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