Why Purple Is The New Green In Veg Health
If you ask a nutritionist what you should be eating, you'll often be told to “eat the rainbow.” It's true that eating various colorful foods is vital to getting all the nutrition your body needs. However, some colors of veg may pack more of a punch than others.
Take green leafy vegetables as an example. They've had their own time to shine in recent years. This is especially true for kale, which blew up because of its health benefits. Since then, people have continued to add these vegetables to their diets to reap the nutritional rewards.
It would be hard to find a green vegetable that nutritionists tell people to shy away from – but as it turns out, there may be a new color in town. Purple vegetables are making their way to the top of the food chain because of their nutritional value and flavor versatility. But what is so good about purple vegetables? Here’s why purple is the new green in veg health.
What vegetables are purple?
There are many purple vegetables, some of which you may not even know exist! The frontrunner, eggplant, is pretty common. But what about the others? The following list contains all the purple vegetables you should add to your diet:
- Purple potatoes
- Purple cabbage
- Purple cauliflower
- Purple asparagus
- Purple carrots
- Purple corn
- Purple peppers
- Purple kohlrabi
- Purple artichokes
- Purple okra
- Purple basil
- Purple kale
- Purple radish
- Purple yam
Some of these may be different versions of the same vegetable you know and love, but these purple variations have their own health benefits.
Image by Heather Ford on Unsplash: Why are purple foods healthy?
How do purple vegetables get their color?
Each vegetable has its own unique shade, but all belong within certain groups that share the same hue. For example, broccoli and green beans are both green. Why? Because they both contain a specific pigment that gives them their unique color. In green vegetables, that substance is chlorophyll.
Chlorophyll is a green pigment that is also found in plants. It gives the vegetables their color, but also performs other important tasks such as absorbing energy from the sun. In humans, chlorophyll can curb inflammation.
In purple vegetables, the special pigment is called anthocyanin. Anthocyanin is a type of flavonoid. Flavonoids are secondary metabolites that lend a hand in regulating cell activity. In human health, anthocyanins play many roles.
Why are purple vegetables healthy?
Anthocyanin in purple vegetables is what makes them so healthy. The pigment can aid the body in many important functions. The first is inflammation. Inflammation occurs as part of the normal immune response. It triggers the immune system to take action against certain pathogens. It also helps to lead immune cells where they need to go to get their job done.
However, inflammation isn't always a good thing. In some cases, people can suffer from chronic inflammation, which is when the body is inflamed without the presence of an active threat. Inflammation like this can be the cause of diseases or a symptom.
Anthocyanins act as anti-inflammatory substances and antioxidants. Both substances have been shown to reduce chronic inflammation in the body. They can also reduce free radicals, a type of atom that can cause harm to the body if there are too many of them. A disorder known as oxidative stress can develop when free radicals are found in high amounts. Antioxidants are designed to combat free radical accumulation.
When a person eats a lot of purple vegetables, they can accomplish several things:
- Balance free radicals
- Reduce inflammation
- Combat oxidative stress
- Reduce the risk of disease cause by free radical accumulation
Heart disease, which is one of the leading causes of preventable death in the US, is also positively affected by anthocyanins. Studies show that a diet high in purple vegetables containing anthocyanins can greatly reduce the risk of heart disease.
Image by Natalia Fogarty on Unsplash: Are purple vegetables more nutritious?
Are purple vegetables better than green?
It's hard to pit one vegetable against another based on color, because all veggies have their own upsides. That said, when it comes to a vegetable’s color and what it offers the body, it depends on the type of vegetable. For example, when comparing purple and green cabbage, purple cabbage comes out on top. Studies have examined which type of cabbage has the best nutritional value. As it turns out, there are more plant compounds in the purple variety. Because of this, purple cabbage reigns supreme in the battle of nutrition between cabbages.
Other research has looked at different varieties of asparagus. It found that purple asparagus may also prove to be a more powerful choice, with the many health benefits of purple asparagus overshadowing its green counterpart. This is because it contains a plant pigment known as rutin, which possesses both anti-cancer and anti-cardiovascular disease properties.
People who want the benefits of eating green leafy vegetables but aren't big fans could try purple kale instead. While it can't be said that purple kale is “better” than green, its hue can make eating it a bit more fun! And the best thing about purple kale is that it contains all the compounds and nutrients found in green kale. Eating the purple variety will provide you with the same health benefits as the green leafy vegetable would.
Purple vegetables may be beautiful, but that doesn't mean that their benefits run skin-deep. These visually appealing veggies offer quite a punch when it comes to nutrition. No matter what type you opt for, you won't regret adding purple vegetables to your meal rotation.
Featured image by Bruna Branco on Unsplash
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