The chemicals which cause red, orange, purple, and blue color in foods are called anthocyanins, a type of flavinoids. They are antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-viral. Thus they help boost the immune system, and protect against cardiovascular disease and cancer. Some research shows that these chemicals may also protect against obesity. According to the The Pennington Biomedical Research Center anthocyanins “have been credited with the capacity to modulate cognitive and motor function, to enhance memory and to have a role in preventing age-related declines in neural function.”
Anthocyanins are now thought to be why red wine is healthy (in moderation, of course). They are also found in berries, cocoa, vegetables, teas and honey. The darker the color the higher the concentration of beneficial compounds. So blueberries are more “powerful” than strawberries. But to keep things simple I just try to include any food from this family in every meal. Plus, it’s fun to have lots of different colors on the plate.
In practical terms, what does that look like? Here are some menu ideas with links to recipes. As you can see, not all colorful foods are fruits. There are also many vegetables that fit the bill.
- Scrambled eggs with greens, chives, and cheddar cheese, with a bowl of raspberries
- Whole milk yogurt with berries and crispy nuts
- Chocolate bacon pancakes (Yes, chocolate counts as a purple food for our purposes here. These are decadent, but actually full of healthy fats and protein, and relatively low in carbs.)
- Grass-fed hamburger with avocado, pink sauerkraut (both red and green!)
- Raw milk cheese, lacto-fermented pickles, strawberry jello
- Broccoli soup with raw cream, carrot fries (These are my new favorite things! Super easy and better than sweet potato fries.)