The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
16 Delicious and Nutritious Purple Foods
Though the color purple is most often associated with fruits, there are many types of purple-colored foods to choose from, including vegetables and grains.
Here are 16 purple foods that are as nutritious and delicious as they are visually appealing.
Blackberries are among the most well-known purple fruits. These juicy berries are packed with nutrition and potent anthocyanin pigments.
Anthocyanins are a type of polyphenol compound that gives foods their purple, blue, or red colors. They're found in high concentrations in the other fruits, vegetables, and grains on this list.
They act as strong antioxidants in your body, protecting your cells from damage and reducing inflammation that may otherwise lead to negative health outcomes.
Anthocyanins promote your health in various ways. Eating anthocyanin-rich foods like blackberries may protect against many chronic conditions, such as diabetes, certain cancers, and heart disease (1Trusted Source).
Blackberries are also loaded with other strong polyphenol antioxidants, as well as fiber and micronutrients, including vitamin C, folate, magnesium, potassium, and manganese. All these nutrients make blackberries a highly nutritious choice for a tasty, sweet treat (2).
2. Forbidden Rice
Black rice (Oryza sativa L. indica) — often referred to as "forbidden rice" — is a unique rice variety that takes on a deep purple color when cooked (3Trusted Source).
Unlike other rice varieties, highly pigmented forbidden rice is an excellent source of anthocyanins, which may have cancer-fighting effects.
This striking grain makes a colorful substitution for white or brown rice and can be used in a number of recipes, such as soups, stir-fries, and pilafs.
3. Purple Sweet Potatoes
All sweet potatoes are highly nutritious, providing many vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, provitamin A, potassium, and B vitamins. Purple sweet potatoes have the added benefit of containing anthocyanin antioxidants (6Trusted Source).
Test-tube and animal research shows that purple sweet potatoes may have anti-inflammatory properties and even protect against obesity and certain types of cancer, including colon cancer (7Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source, 9Trusted Source).
You can use purple sweet potatoes as a substitute for more common orange-fleshed sweet potatoes in any recipe.
Eggplants come in a variety of colors, but purple-skinned eggplants are among the most common.
Though not as nutrient-dense as some of the other foods on this list, eggplants are high in antioxidants and manganese, a mineral essential for bone health and metabolism (10Trusted Source).
The peel of purple eggplants is especially concentrated in the anthocyanin nasunin, which has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and heart-protective properties in animal and test-tube studies (11Trusted Source, 12Trusted Source).
5. Purple Cauliflower
Purple cauliflower (Brassica oleracea var. botrytis) is a visually stunning cruciferous vegetable. Unlike white-colored varieties, purple cauliflower contains anthocyanins thanks to a genetic mutation that gives them an intense purple hue (13Trusted Source).
Purple cauliflower not only adds color to any dish but also offers anti-inflammatory benefits and may protect against certain cancers, including colorectal cancer (14Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source).
6. Purple Carrots
Purple carrots are sweet-tasting, crunchy vegetables that are packed with a wide array of polyphenol antioxidants, including anthocyanins, cinnamic acid, and chlorogenic acid.
Research has shown that people who consume polyphenol-rich diets have lower rates of heart disease, obesity, and diabetes than those who consume diets low in these important antioxidants (18Trusted Source, 19Trusted Source).
7. Redbor Kale
Kale is a nutritional powerhouse, and the purple-tinged Redbor variety is no exception. One study found that Redbor kale extract contained 47 powerful plant compounds, including kaempferol, quercetin, and p-coumaric acid (21Trusted Source).
Because of its distinctive color and interesting texture, Redbor kale is often used as a decorative plant to add visual appeal to gardens and planters.
However, it's also edible and highly nutritious. You can use it in the same way as other leafy greens in many different recipes.
8. Passion Fruit
Passiflora edulis is a tropical vine cultivated for its ability to produce delicious fruits known as passion fruit. Ripe passion fruits have a yellow or purple rind that covers sweet, soft flesh filled with crunchy seeds.
Passion fruit contains a special polyphenol antioxidant called piceatannol, which has been shown to have several remarkable health-promoting properties and may be especially beneficial for skin health.
For example, a test-tube study found that piceatannol isolated from passion fruit protected skin cells from sun damage. Furthermore, a study in 32 women with dry skin demonstrated that taking 5 mg of piceatannol for 8 weeks increased skin moisture (22Trusted Source, 23Trusted Source).
9. Purple Mangosteen
The tree Garcinia mangostana has been grown since ancient times in tropical areas for the fragrant, purple-toned fruit it produces — the mangosteen.
Mangosteens have a tough, deep purple outer rind that must be removed to enjoy the tangy, slightly sweet fruit found inside.
Mangosteens are packed with fiber and folate, a B vitamin essential for many important processes in your body, including the production of DNA and red blood cells (24Trusted Source).
These unique fruits also contain antioxidants called xanthones, which have been shown to provide anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, and anticancer properties in some studies (25Trusted Source).
10. Purple Asparagus
Although asparagus is most often associated with the color green, this vegetable also comes in other hues, including white and purple.
Purple asparagus adds visual appeal and nutritional benefits to recipes, providing a wealth of vitamins, minerals, and potent plant compounds. It's an excellent source of anthocyanins.
Purple asparagus is also the asparagus variety with the highest concentration of rutin, a polyphenol plant pigment that may have powerful heart-protective and anticancer properties (26Trusted Source, 27, 28Trusted Source).
11. Acai Berries
Acai berries are small, deep purple fruits that have become popular in the wellness world due to their high concentration of antioxidants, including anthocyanins.
Acai berries can be incorporated into various recipes, including acai bowls — a Brazilian dish consisting of frozen, blended acai berries. They are also made into juices, powders, and concentrated supplements for medicinal uses.
These tasty purple berries may improve your health in many ways. They may increase blood antioxidant content and help reduce high cholesterol, blood sugar levels, and inflammation (29Trusted Source, 30Trusted Source).
12. Purple Star Apple
The purple star apple — Chrysophyllum cainito — is a tree that produces round fruits that turn purple when ripe. The fruits have sweet flesh that secretes a milky juice and has a radiating star pattern when cut.
People have used the fruit, bark, and leaves of the star apple tree medicinally throughout history to treat a variety of ailments, including coughs, pain, and diabetes (31Trusted Source).
13. Purple Cabbage
All varieties of cabbage are exceptionally nutritious. However, purple cabbage — also known as red cabbage — contains anthocyanins, which boost the health-promoting properties of this cruciferous vegetable even higher (34Trusted Source).
Purple cabbage is loaded with fiber, provitamin A, and vitamin C. It provides potent anti-inflammatory effects thanks to the high levels of powerful plant compounds found in its highly pigmented leaves (35, 36Trusted Source).
Purple cabbage can be used in the same way as green cabbage and makes an excellent addition to slaws, stews, and stir-fries.
Elderberries are known for their intense purple color and immune-boosting effects. People take concentrated elderberry products, such as syrups and capsules, as a natural remedy to treat colds and the flu.
Elderberries are also high in fiber and vitamin C, and they're commonly eaten cooked in jams and jellies or made into juice, wine, or concentrated syrups.
15. Red Dragon Fruit
Red dragon fruit has a bright, reddish-purple flesh dotted with tiny, black, edible seeds. This tropical fruit has the texture of a kiwi, and its taste is often described as mildly sweet.
Dragon fruits are low in calories yet packed with fiber, vitamin C, and magnesium, making them a nutritious addition to fruit salads and other sweet dishes (39).
Red dragon fruits also contain a high concentration of protective antioxidants.
Test-tube research suggests that extract from red dragon fruit may have the ability to stop the growth of certain types of human cancer cells, including breast cancer, and may induce cancer cell death (40Trusted Source).
16. Purple Barley
All barley types are high in fiber and minerals, such as manganese, iron, magnesium, and selenium. Along with these nutrients, purple barley is loaded with anthocyanins, making it an excellent choice for a nutrient-rich ingredient (42).
Barley is also high in beta-glucan, a type of fiber that has been linked to a number of health benefits. Research shows that beta-glucan may promote digestive health, reduce heart disease risk factors, and improve immune response (43Trusted Source).
Additionally, those who consume diets rich in whole grains like purple barley have lower rates of diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers (44Trusted Source).
The Bottom Line
Purple-pigmented foods offer a host of health benefits and add color to your diet.
Incorporating purple foods like blackberries, Redbor kale, acai berries, forbidden rice, purple carrots, and elderberries into your meal plan can ensure you are consuming a powerful dose of anthocyanin antioxidants and a variety of important nutrients.
Try adding a few of the fruits, vegetables, and grains on this list to your next meal or snack to take advantage of their health-promoting properties.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Tom Duszynski
The coronavirus is certainly scary, but despite the constant reporting on total cases and a climbing death toll, the reality is that the vast majority of people who come down with COVID-19 survive it. Just as the number of cases grows, so does another number: those who have recovered.
In mid-March, the number of patients in the U.S. who had officially recovered from the virus was close to zero. That number is now in the tens of thousands and is climbing every day. But recovering from COVID-19 is more complicated than simply feeling better. Recovery involves biology, epidemiology and a little bit of bureaucracy too.
How does your body fight off COVID-19?<p>Once a person is exposed the coronavirus, the body starts producing <a href="https://www.mblintl.com/products/what-are-antibodies-mbli/" target="_blank">proteins called antibodies to fight the infection</a>. As these <a href="https://www.statnews.com/2020/03/27/serological-tests-reveal-immune-coronavirus/" target="_blank">antibodies start to successfully contain the virus</a> and keep it from replicating in the body, symptoms usually begin to lessen and you start to feel better. Eventually, if all goes well, your immune system will completely destroy all of the virus in your system. A person who was infected with and survived a virus with no long-term health effects or disabilities has "recovered."</p><p>On average, a person who is infected with SARS-CoV-2 will feel ill for about seven days from the onset of symptoms. Even after symptoms disappear, there still may be small amounts of the virus in a patient's system, and they should stay <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/steps-when-sick.html" target="_blank">isolated for an additional three days</a> to ensure they have truly <a href="https://health.usnews.com/conditions/articles/coronavirus-recovery-what-to-know" target="_blank">recovered and are no longer infectious</a>.</p>
What about immunity?<p>In general, once you have recovered from a viral infection, your body will keep cells called lymphocytes in your system. These cells "remember" viruses they've previously seen and can react quickly to fight them off again. If you are exposed to a virus you have already had, your antibodies will likely stop the virus before it starts causing symptoms. <a href="https://dx.doi.org/10.5114%2Fceji.2018.77390" target="_blank">You become immune</a>. This is the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK27158/" target="_blank">principle behind many vaccines</a>.</p><p>Unfortunately, immunity isn't perfect. For many viruses, like mumps, immunity can wane over time, leaving you <a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/04/160421145747.htm" target="_blank">susceptible to the virus in the future</a>. This is why you need to get revaccinated – those "booster shots" – occasionally: to prompt your immune system to make more antibodies and memory cells.</p><p>Since this coronavirus is so new, scientists still don't know whether people who recover from COVID-19 are <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/faq.html" target="_blank">immune to future infections of the virus</a>. Doctors are finding antibodies in ill and recovered patients, and <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/clinical-guidance-management-patients.html" target="_blank">that indicates the development of immunity</a>. But the question remains how long that immunity will last. Other coronaviruses like <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/jmv.25685" target="_blank">SARS and MERS produce an immune response</a> that will protect a person at least for a short time. I would suspect the same is true of SARS-CoV-2, but the research simply hasn't been done yet to say so definitively.</p>
Why have so few people officially recovered in the US?<p>This is a dangerous virus, so the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is being extremely careful when deciding what it means to recover from COVID-19. Both medical and testing criteria must be met before a person is <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/disposition-in-home-patients.html" target="_blank">officially declared recovered</a>.</p><p>Medically, a person must be fever-free without fever-reducing medications for three consecutive days. They must show an improvement in their other symptoms, including reduced coughing and shortness of breath. And it must be at least seven full days <a href="https://health.usnews.com/conditions/articles/coronavirus-recovery-what-to-know" target="_blank">since the symptoms began</a>.</p><p>In addition to those requirements, the CDC guidelines say that a person must test negative for the coronavirus twice, with the <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/care-for-someone.html" target="_blank">tests taken at least 24 hours apart</a>.</p><p>Only then, if both the symptom and testing conditions are met, is a person officially considered recovered by the CDC.</p><p>This second testing requirement is likely why there were so few official recovered cases in the U.S. until late March. Initially, there was a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/18/health/coronavirus-test-shortages-face-masks-swabs.html" target="_blank">massive shortage of testing in the U.S.</a> So while many people were certainly recovering over the last few weeks, this could not be officially confirmed. As the country enters the height of the pandemic in the coming weeks, focus is still on <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/hcp/clinical-criteria.html" target="_blank">testing those who are infected</a>, not those who have likely recovered.</p><p>Many more people are being tested now that states and private companies have begun <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-updates/testing-in-us.html" target="_blank">producing and distributing tests</a>. As <a href="https://www.dispatch.com/news/20200406/coronavirus-in-ohio-from-its-rocky-start-testing-for-covid-19-slowly-ramping-up" target="_blank">the number of available tests increases</a> and the pandemic eventually slows in the country, more testing will be available for those who have appeared to recover. As people who have already recovered are tested, the appearance of any new infections will help researchers learn <a href="https://www.statnews.com/2020/03/24/we-need-smart-coronavirus-testing-not-just-more-testing/" target="_blank">how long immunity can be expected to last</a>.</p>
Once a person has recovered, what can they do?<p>Knowing whether or not people are immune to COVID-19 after they recover is going to determine what individuals, communities and society at large can do going forward. If scientists can show that recovered patients are immune to the coronavirus, then a person who has recovered could in theory <a href="https://www.vox.com/2020/3/30/21186822/immunity-to-covid-19-test-coronavirus-rt-pcr-antibody" target="_blank">help support the health care system</a> by caring for those who are infected.</p><p>Once communities pass the peak of the epidemic, the number of new infections will decline, while the number of <a href="https://www.newsweek.com/china-says-passed-peak-coronavirus-epidemic-covid-19-1491863" target="_blank">recovered people will increase</a>. As these trends continue, the risk of transmission will fall. Once the risk of transmission has fallen enough, community-level isolation and social distancing orders will begin to relax and businesses will start to reopen. Based on what other countries have gone through, it will be <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00154-w" target="_blank">months until the risk of transmission is low</a> in the U.S.</p><p>But before any of this can happen, the U.S. and the world need to make it through the peak of this pandemic. Social distancing works to slow the spread of infectious diseases and <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/what-you-can-do.html" target="_blank">is working for COVID-19</a>. Many people will <a href="https://www.yalemedicine.org/stories/2019-novel-coronavirus/" target="_blank">need medical help to recover</a>, and social distancing will slow this virus down and give people the best chance to do so.</p>
By Elizabeth Claire Alberts
The future for the world's oceans often looks grim. Fisheries are set to collapse by 2048, according to one study, and 8 million tons of plastic pollute the ocean every year, causing considerable damage to delicate marine ecosystems. Yet a new study in Nature offers an alternative, and more optimistic view on the ocean's future: it asserts that the entire marine environment could be substantially rebuilt by 2050, if humanity is able to step up to the challenge.
- 3 Ways UN Leaders Can Restore the World's Oceans - EcoWatch ›
- We Still Have Time to Restore Our Climate. But the Climate Time ... ›
- Coral in Crisis: Can Replanting Efforts Halt Reefs' Death Spiral ... ›
Across the country, the novel coronavirus is severely affecting black people at much higher rates than whites, according to data released by several states, as The New York Times reported.
- New Drilling and Fracking in California Will Hurt Latino Communities ... ›
- First-of-Its-Kind Study Finds Racial Gap Between Who Causes Air ... ›
- Environmental Negligence vs. Civil Rights: Black and Hispanic ... ›
By Zulfikar Abbany
Bread has been a source of basic nutrition for centuries, the holy trinity being wheat, maize and rice. It has also been the reason for a lot of innovation in science and technology, from millstones to microbiological investigations into a family of single-cell fungi called Saccharomyces.
Chemical leavening<p>If you like a little heft in your loaf, you will need a leavening agent.</p><p>For those short on time, you can use baking soda. That's a chemical compound of sodium bicarbonate mixed with potassium bitartrate, or cream of tartar.</p><p>Soda breads have their traditions in parts of eastern and central Europe, and in Ireland and Scotland, with Melrose loaves and "farls."</p><p>They can taste a bit bland, though, and are often considered only as an emergency solution on Sundays. No disrespect intended: They taste just fine fresh from the oven.</p><p>Whether it's chemical or more "natural," leavening relies largely on the production of carbon dioxide.</p><p>When you mix an acid, such as vinegar, buttermilk, yogurt or apple cider, with an alkaline compound like baking soda, you get CO2. That CO2 creates bubbles, which in turn capture steam in the oven and allow a bread to rise.</p><p><span></span>But it's better with yeast. Tastes better, too. It just takes more time. </p>
What is yeast?<p>There are yeasts all around us — on grains, in the air, in biofuels. It even lives inside us, but that's not always a good thing.</p><p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1090575/pdf/1471-2334-5-22.pdf" target="_blank">Candida yeast</a> can cause infections of the skin, feet, mouth, penis or vagina if it builds up too much in the body.</p><p>One of the most common yeasts, however, is <em>Saccharomyces cerevisiae</em>. That's <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/an-early-beer-archaeologists-tap-ground-at-worlds-oldest-brewery/a-45480731" target="_blank">"brewer's"</a> or "baker's" yeast.</p><p>You can get fresh baker's yeast, often in 42-gram (1.48-ounce) cubes, or as dried yeast (quick action or active, which requires rehydration) in a sachet of 7 grams.</p><p>There's little difference: One is compressed and the other is dehydrated and granulated. But they do the same thing, essentially. </p><p>Some commercial yeast producers add molasses and other nutrients. But natural yeast has plenty of useful nutrients in it anyway, including B group vitamins, so who knows whether it's good or necessary to add them. </p>
How does yeast work?<p>When you mix flour, yeast and water, you set off a veritable chain reaction. Enzymes in the wheat convert starch into sugar. And the yeast creates enzymes of its own to convert those sugars into a form it can absorb.</p><p>The yeast "feeds" on the sugars to create carbon dioxide and alcohol. The yeast burps and farts, releasing gases into the mix, and that creates bubbles to trap CO2. </p><p>It's a vital fermentation process that breaks down the gluten in the flour and helps make your bread more digestible.</p><p>The yeast cells split and reproduce, generating lactic and carbonic acid, raising the temperature and ultimately adding flavor to the mix.</p><p>The longer you leave the yeast to do its thing, the better for your bread. Time is more important than the amount of yeast. </p><p>In fact, that's an enduring question — how much yeast? I'll use 20 grams fresh yeast for 500 grams of flour. Others say that's enough yeast for 1 kilo. If you are converting a dry-yeast recipe to fresh yeast, some bakers advise tripling the weight. So, if a sachet of dried yeast is 7 grams, your fresh yeast is 21 grams.</p><p><span></span>But that also depends on the flours you are using, temperatures in the bowl and the room, and a host of other things. You'll just have to experiment and see. No number of books (and I've read a stack on bread) will help as much as trial and error.</p>
Wild yeast: Sourdough<p>So, good bread needs time. If you have a lot of time, why not move it up a notch and grow wild yeast — a sourdough starter — in your own home?</p><p>A sourdough starter is not to be mistaken (as it often is) for the leaven, or "mother," "sponge," or <em>levain</em>. That's more a second stage, a descendant of the starter. You take a scoop from your starter and add it to another flour and water mixture when you prepare the dough for a new loaf. </p><p>The sourdough process utilizes yeasts naturally present in flour and … yet more time. A longer fermentation process allows a richer lactic acid bacteria <em>lactobacilli</em> or LAB to evolve, and that can be healthy for your gut microbiome.</p><p>It's simple enough to start a sourdough starter. All you need is flour, warm water and time.</p><p>Some suggest equal measures of whole-grain flour and water at 28 degrees Celsius (82 degrees Fahrenheit), some say room temperature — just don't let the water exceed 40 C or the yeasts will die. Some suggest two parts flour to three parts water. But it's up to you whether you want a drier or wetter starter. You will know only through experimentation. </p><p>Some say you should filter tap water to remove chemicals like fluoride and avoid using water that's boiled and then cooled. Others say that really doesn't matter.</p><p>The main thing is, keep it clean and give it time. Days, weeks, months and years.</p>
- The 7 Healthiest Types of Bread - EcoWatch ›
- This Home-Baked Bread Can Help You Rise Above Industrial Food ... ›
- How Does Sourdough Get Its Unique Flavor? - EcoWatch ›
- UN Biodiversity Chief: Humans Risk Living in an 'Empty World' With ... ›
- World Leaders Urged to 'Act Now' to Save Biodiversity - EcoWatch ›
- Why Biodiversity Loss Hurts Humans as Much as Climate Change ... ›