If you’re into healthy living then you probably already know about the health-boosting properties of antioxidants. Did you also know that blue, purple or black coloured fruits and vegetables are some of the best sources for these free-radical-fighting substances?
While your parents may have told you to “eat your greens” there’s more than one reason why you should extend this to include some naturally dark foods.
What’s so great about antioxidants?
You already eat a healthy balanced diet so what’s all the fuss about antioxidants? Well, to put things simply your body is constantly under attack from things called “free-radicals”. These are used by your body to fight off nasty things like infections, viruses and bacteria. That’s not so bad, is it? Unfortunately, the problems start when your body starts producing more of these free-radicals than are needed – normally as a reaction to being exposed to nasty oxidants in our environment, such as tobacco smoke, air pollution, alcohol or even radiation. The result is that this excess of free radicals begins attacking the healthy cells of your body rather than just the bad things they should guard against. Antioxidants can stop them and even prevent further cell damage.
Great! So how do I load up on antioxidants then?
One “superfood” that is often quoted as being rich in antioxidants is the humble blueberry but a whole range of fruits and vegetables which boast natural blue, purple or black colouring are great too. This is because of the higher amounts of flavonoid pigments they contain called anthocyanins – these are what impart the lovely dark colours to the foods which have them. Some research has even indicated that they can have a positive effect on weight management by helping to boost the metabolism and regulate blood sugar.
Turning to the dark side when it comes to fruit and vegetables could be a splendid idea, A few ideas to get you going are red or purple fruits such as plums or figs along with blackberries and even black grapes. Red cabbage is a tasty and eye-catching change from the normal green, whilst aubergines are delicious in more than just that moussaka you had in Greece on your holidays! For a really novel experience why not try purple varieties of tomatoes, broccoli and even carrots (Interesting tip: the humble carrot was actually naturally purple until we bred the orange colour into it!).
By adding some purple, blue or black fruit and vegetables to your diet you are accessing a great source of anti-free radicals. Meaning they not only look great on a plate but are the plum choice for grabbing some of that great antioxidant action!