Painting your plate with vibrantly colored fruits and vegetables is important for long-term health, and when it comes to colorful options, purple and blue produce can pack a powerful nutrition punch. Recent research published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine suggests that consuming purple and blue foods, such as purple cabbage, eggplant, raisins, Concord grapes and 100% grape juice, may help Americans get more of the nutrients they need and consume healthier diets (McGill et al 2011).
In this study, researchers examined the diets of more than 15,000 adults and children and found that in general, those who consumed purple and blue produce ate more fruit and had healthier diets compared to those who did not eat purple and blue produce. Specifically, children and adults who ate purple and blue fruits and vegetables versus those who did not had higher intakes of essential nutrients (like fiber, potassium and vitamin C) and lower intakes of added sugar (McGill et al 2011).
To add to these findings, adults who ate purple and blue produce also had significantly lower waist circumferences and body mass index (BMI)—indicators of heart-health risk (Flint et al 2010; NHLBI)
Enjoying More Purple and Blue Produce Can be Easy and Delicious
Despite the evidence linking purple foods to health, many of us aren’t including this color in our daily diets. The Produce for Better Health Foundation says that just 3% of our fruit and vegetable intake is from this beneficial color category (PBH 2003).
So, how can you boost heart-healthy purple and blue in your diet? Check out these simple and tasty mealtime tips:
- Sprinkle raisins on your whole-grain cereal.
- Create a smoothie with blackberries, low-fat yogurt and 100% juice.
- Add a glass of 100% grape juice made with Concord grapes to your afternoon meal. A 4-ounce glass counts as one serving (1/2 cup) of purple fruit.
- Try this fresh grape and cheddar salad with grape yogurt dressing, courtesy of Welch’s and Cabot Creamery Cooperative.
- 1/2 cup 100% grape juice made with Concord grapes
- 1/4 cup plain, low-fat Greek-style yogurt
- 1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- Ground black pepper to taste
- 3 cups fresh baby greens, such as arugula, romaine or spinach
- 1 cup halved red or green seedless fresh grapes
- 1 ounce reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese, grated (about 1/3 cup)
To make dressing:
- In saucepan over high heat, bring grape juice to boil; let cook until bubbling thickly and reduced to a couple of tablespoons, about 4 minutes. Scrape into small bowl and place in freezer for about 10 minutes to chill.
- Remove grape juice from freezer and whisk in yogurt, vinegar and mustard until smooth. Season with pepper. Use immediately or cover and refrigerate until needed.
To finish salads:
- Divide greens and grapes between two plates. Drizzle some of dressing over each salad and top with cheese.
Per serving: 140 calories; 2 g fat; 1 g saturated fat; 9 g protein; 25 g carbohydrate; 5 mg cholesterol; 140 mg sodium; 1g fiber.
- Serve a side of roasted eggplant with your favorite pasta dish.
- Grill purple asparagus or roast some purple potatoes to accompany your evening meal.
Flint, A.J., et al (2010). Body mass index, waist circumference, and risk of coronary heart disease: A prospective study among men and women. Obesity Research & Clinical Practice, 4 (3), e171-e181.
McGill, C.R., et al. (2011). Consumption of Purple/Blue Produce is Associated with Increased Nutrient Intake and Reduced Risk for Metabolic Syndrome: Results From the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999-2002. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 5 (3), 279-290.
NHLBI (National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health). Classification of Overweight and Obesity by BMI, Waist Circumference, and Associated Disease Risks. www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/obesity/lose_wt/bmi_dis.htm. (Accessed: May 2, 2012).
PBH (Produce for Better Health Foundation). 2003. State of the Plate Study on America’s Consumption of Fruits and Vegetables.
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