Eat Purple Foods

Do you like the color purple? How many times have you ever really though about purple food? I have to admit that I never thought much about it till now. Well, it seems like purple foods are good for us and we should be eating lots more of it.

Phenolics or polyphenols, are phytochemical that are natural plant chemicals having powerful antioxidant properties.  Currently there are about 8,000 identified polyphenols that are found in foods.  Some of these foods are tea, wine, chocolates, fruits and vegetables.  The antioxidants include carotenoids and allyl sulfides that help to protect your cells from free radical damage and thus help in controlling general aging and disease.

Without adequate protection, the free radicals can cause cellular damage and/or dysfunction.   This could raise your risk for chronic diseases as heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s.  Polypenols can be broken into four categories, such as flavonoids, stilbenes, lignans and phenolic acids.  Foods usually contain mixtures of polyphenols with higher levels in the outer layers of the plants.  Fruits, berries and veggies receive their vibrant colors and the bitterness, astringency, flavor, aroma and oxidative stability of food from polyphenols.

The diverse biological function and properties of polyphenols in the human body are to fight cancer cells, protect skin against ultraviolet radiation, fight free radicals and decrease inflammation, promote brain health, reduce appearance of aging, protect against dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, modulate gut microbiome, improve bone metabolism that reduces risk for osteoporosis, promote normal blood pressure to protect the cardiovascular system, reduce clumping of platelets in the blood and support normal blood sugar levels.

They have found that fruit-based flavonoids like fruits and berries with a blue, red or dark purple color can lower the risk of nonfatal myocardial infarction and ischemic stroke in men.  The entire fruit needs to be eaten to reap the benefits though, not just the fruit juice.  Other studies show some flavonols can significantly decrease your risk of heart disease, help to reduce clumping of platelets in the blood, scavenge free radicals and reduce inflammation, as well as to inhibit vascular endothelial growth factor.

You will find that the organic foods have higher polyphenol content compared to conventionally grown types.  Another great source of polyphenols are herbs and spices and all sorts of berries and purple potatoes.  They have an ability to lower the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases.

A drawback of potatoes is the high starch.  Raising your blood sugar contributes to insulin resistance and possibly type 2 diabetes.  Cooking the digestible starch and then cooling it in the refrigerator will alter its chemistry through the process called retrogradation that transforms much of the starch into digestive-resistant type starch.  Digestive-resistant starch act as probiotics for healthy bacteria.  Resistant starch will also add significant bulk to your stools in helping to maintain regular bowel movements.  They also do not result in blood sugar spikes.

Be sure to make polyphenol-rich foods a part of your daily diet, such as juicing veggies, eating fresh berries and nuts and adding fresh herbs and spices to your cooking liberally.

Dr Fredda Branyon