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.
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By Tara Lohan
Warming temperatures on land and in the water are already forcing many species to seek out more hospitable environments. Atlantic mackerel are swimming farther north; mountain-dwelling pikas are moving upslope; some migratory birds are altering the timing of their flights.
Numerous studies have tracked these shifting ranges, looked at the importance of wildlife corridors to protect these migrations, and identified climate refugia where some species may find a safer climatic haven.
"There's a huge amount of scientific literature about where species will have to move as the climate warms," says U.C. Berkeley biogeographer Matthew Kling. "But there hasn't been much work in terms of actually thinking about how they're going to get there — at least not when it comes to wind-dispersed plants."
Kling and David Ackerly, professor and dean of the College of Natural Resources at U.C. Berkeley, have taken a stab at filling this knowledge gap. Their recent study, published in Nature Climate Change, looks at the vulnerability of wind-dispersed species to climate change.
It's an important field of research, because while a fish can more easily swim toward colder waters, a tree may find its wind-blown seeds landing in places and conditions where they're not adapted to grow.
Kling is careful to point out that the researchers weren't asking how climate change was going to change wind; other research suggests there likely won't be big shifts in global wind patterns.
Instead the study involved exploring those wind patterns — including direction, speed and variability — across the globe. The wind data was then integrated with data on climate variation to build models trying to predict vulnerability patterns showing where wind may either help or hinder biodiversity from responding to climate change.
One of the study's findings was that wind-dispersed or wind-pollinated trees in the tropics and on the windward sides of mountain ranges are more likely to be vulnerable, since the wind isn't likely to move those dispersers in the right direction for a climate-friendly environment.
The researchers also looked specifically at lodgepole pines, a species that's both wind-dispersed and wind-pollinated.
They found that populations of lodgepole pines that already grow along the warmer and drier edges of the species' current range could very well be under threat due to rising temperatures and related climate alterations.
"As temperature increases, we need to think about how the genes that are evolved to tolerate drought and heat are going to get to the portions of the species' range that are going to be getting drier and hotter," says Kling. "So that's what we were able to take a stab at predicting and estimating with these wind models — which populations are mostly likely to receive those beneficial genes in the future."
That's important, he says, because wind-dispersed species like pines, willows and poplars are often keystone species whole ecosystems depend upon — especially in temperate and boreal forests.
And there are even more plants that rely on pollen dispersal by wind.
"That's going to be important for moving genes from the warmer parts of a species' range to the cooler parts of the species' range," he says. "This is not just about species' ranges shifting, but also genetic changes within species."
Kling says this line of research is just beginning, and much more needs to be done to test these models in the field. But there could be important conservation-related benefits to that work.
"All these species and genes need to migrate long distances and we can be thinking more about habitat connectivity and the vulnerability of these systems," he says.
The more we learn, the more we may be able to do to help species adapt.
"The idea is that there will be some landscapes where the wind is likely to help these systems naturally adapt to climate change without much intervention, and other places where land managers might really need to intervene," he says. "That could involve using assisted migration or assisted gene flow to actually get in there, moving seeds or planting trees to help them keep up with rapid climate change."
Tara Lohan is deputy editor of The Revelator and has worked for more than a decade as a digital editor and environmental journalist focused on the intersections of energy, water and climate. Her work has been published by The Nation, American Prospect, High Country News, Grist, Pacific Standard and others. She is the editor of two books on the global water crisis. http://twitter.com/TaraLohan
Reposted with permission from The Revelator.
The last Ice Age eliminated some giant mammals, like the woolly rhino. Conventional thinking initially attributed their extinction to hunting. While overhunting may have contributed, a new study pinpointed a different reason for the woolly rhinos' extinction: climate change.
The last of the woolly rhinos went extinct in Siberia nearly 14,000 years ago, just when the Earth's climate began changing from its frozen conditions to something warmer, wetter and less favorable to the large land mammal. DNA tests conducted by scientists on 14 well-preserved rhinos point to rapid warming as the culprit, CNN reported.
"Humans are well known to alter their environment and so the assumption is that if it was a large animal it would have been useful to people as food and that must have caused its demise," says Edana Lord, a graduate student at the Center for Paleogenetics in Stockholm, Sweden, and co-first author of the paper, Smithsonian Magazine reported. "But our findings highlight the role of rapid climate change in the woolly rhino's extinction."
The study, published in Current Biology, notes that the rhino population stayed fairly consistent for tens of thousands of years until 18,500 years ago. That means that people and rhinos lived together in Northern Siberia for roughly 13,000 years before rhinos went extinct, Science News reported.
The findings are an ominous harbinger for large species during the current climate crisis. As EcoWatch reported, nearly 1,000 species are expected to go extinct within the next 100 years due to their inability to adapt to a rapidly changing climate. Tigers, eagles and rhinos are especially vulnerable.
The difference between now and the phenomenon 14,000 years ago is that human activity is directly responsible for the current climate crisis.
To figure out the cause of the woolly rhinos' extinction, scientists examined DNA from different rhinos across Siberia. The tissue, bone and hair samples allowed them to deduce the population size and diversity for tens of thousands of years prior to extinction, CNN reported.
Researchers spent years exploring the Siberian permafrost to find enough samples. Then they had to look for pristine genetic material, Smithsonian Magazine reported.
It turns out the wooly rhinos actually thrived as they lived alongside humans.
"It was initially thought that humans appeared in northeastern Siberia fourteen or fifteen thousand years ago, around when the woolly rhinoceros went extinct. But recently, there have been several discoveries of much older human occupation sites, the most famous of which is around thirty thousand years old," senior author Love Dalén, a professor of evolutionary genetics at the Center for Paleogenetics, said in a press release.
"This paper shows that woolly rhino coexisted with people for millennia without any significant impact on their population," Grant Zazula, a paleontologist for Canada's Yukon territory and Simon Fraser University who was not involved in the research, told Smithsonian Magazine. "Then all of a sudden the climate changed and they went extinct."
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Transitioning to renewable energy can help reduce global warming, and Jennie Stephens of Northeastern University says it can also drive social change.
For example, she says that locally owned businesses can lead the local clean energy economy and create new jobs in underserved communities.
"We really need to think about … connecting climate and energy with other issues that people wake up every day really worried about," she says, "whether it be jobs, housing, transportation, health and well-being."
To maximize that potential, she says the energy sector must have more women and people of color in positions of influence. Research shows that leadership in the solar industry, for example, is currently dominated by white men.
"I think that a more inclusive, diverse leadership is essential to be able to effectively make these connections," Stephens says. "Diversity is not just about who people are and their identity, but the ideas and the priorities and the approaches and the lens that they bring to the world."
So she says by elevating diverse voices, organizations can better connect the climate benefits of clean energy with social and economic transformation.
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.