When it comes to the foods you consume, I am sure you have heard the expression ‘to eat the rainbow,’ and you should take this advice. Due to pigmentation, many foods are available in an array of colors, and these different colors supply our bodies with various phytochemicals and health benefits.
Today, the spotlight in on Peruvian purple foods. You may ask, why purple? Purple foods are packed with antioxidants and phytonutrients flavonoids. What gives these foods their purple color is their pigmentation, which is due to their content of anthocyanins, a phytonutrient flavonoid.
Eating anthocyanins will protect your memory, aid against cancer, protect your heart, prevent inflammation, and slow down signs of aging. Three of my favorite purple foods are Peruvian purple potatoes, purple corn and purple onions.
There are over 3,000 kinds of potato, but purple potatoes have been a staple of the Peruvian diet since the Inca Empire. This potato’s high anthocyanin content acts as a powerful antioxidant in addition to supporting brain health and cognitive function.
Anthocyanins can also help control blood sugar levels by breaking up glucose in the body. Moreover, purple potatoes are a great source of complex carbohydrates, folic acid, potassium and vitamin C.
Another purple food is maiz morado, or purple corn. It is one of over 200 native Peruvian corn varieties. These phytonutrients in purple corn are rich in antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anti-carcinogenic properties. Purple corn has also been shown to prevent long-term kidney damage in persons with type 2 diabetes by protecting renal cells from inflammation and fibrous tissue buildup. Its anti-inflammatory effects are also shown to reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
The high level of anthocyanins in purple corn are also positively linked to the regeneration of connective tissue and collagen for healthy skin as well as their ability to reduce the risk of heart disease and improve visual acuity.
Purple onion is another vegetable that is exceptionally rich in anthocyanins. Not only does it have an antioxidant effect, but it also protects against inflammation. Purple onions also contain chromium, an essential micronutrient that aids in the breakdown and absorption of micronutrients (i.e., carbohydrate, fat and protein) for energy. Purple onions have a significant amount of vitamin C for immunity and sulfides which help to reduce blood pressure.
Try adding Peruvian purple fruits and vegetables to your diet to boost health and vitality. But keep in mind, there is no one miracle food. By adding a variety of anthocyanin-rich purple foods to a smart diet of whole grains, fresh fruits, lean meats and good fats, you can jumpstart your health and increase your longevity.
Cover photo: sk/Flickr
This article has been updated from its original publication by Manuel Villacorta on March 8, 2014.
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