Purple Reigns! Why Purple Foods Are Good for You

Purple vegetables and fruit pack a powerful punch of health benefits

June 6, 2019
Purple Green Beans

Purple Dove Bush Bean Pods and seeds are a lovely violet-purple. Super-productive.

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

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Purple power! Did you know that purple vegetables and fruit aren’t just colorful? These edibles are packed with potent antioxidants—and usually more flavorful! Discover purple potatoes, purple carrots, and more.

Blueberries, blackberries, and purple grapes are bursting with these powerful compounds that add years to your life.  The purple pigments boost immune systems, thwart inflammation of the arteries and organs and prevent many cancers and other diseases.  Why stop with fruit?  Purple vegetables full of the same antioxidants. 

Purple Potatoes

I’ve found that purple produce has more flavors, too.  I wrote about my heirloom blue potatoes (which are really purple) have a sweet nutty taste when roasted that surpasses any white potato.

Kansas State University developed this purple sweet potatoes.  Commercial growers have sold them to grocery stores.  Look for plants for your garden in seed catalogs.

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Sweet Potato Molokai Purple are delicious! Very sweet-fleshed and creamy, with overtones of chestnut. Much higher in antioxidants than orange-fleshed types.

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All Blue Potatoes are what potatoes used to look like! Completely non-GMO and a source of excellent nutrition. Credit: easytogrowbulbs.com

Purple Carrots

The skins of purple carrots add a citrusy, nutty taste to sweet orange cores. Both potatoes and carrots, by the way, began life purple. Potatoes first grew at high altitudes in Peru in shallow, rocky soil.  The purple pigment developed as a defense against the strong sunlight, preventing green spots which are full of toxic solanine.  Carrots sprang from the craggy mountains of Afghanistan, where light was also a problem.  Europeans bred the purple colors out of these vegetables, opting for blander colors that people would eat.

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Cosmic Purple Carrot by Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. Carrots have bright purple skin and flesh that comes in shades of yellow and orange. Spicy and sweet-tasting roots.

More Purple Vegetables

Plant breeders have developed a number of purple-hued vegetables in the last three decades.  And, they’re still working on incorporating purple into vegetables like sugar snap and snow peas.  You can find purple cauliflower, sweet potatoes, bush beans, artichokes, radishes, beans, and peppers in many specialty grocery stores and in seed catalogs.

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Malaga radish by rareseeds.com. Mature in 35 days. Round roots are a very unusual color—a deep plum purple/violet, so pretty in contrast with the snow-white flesh! 

Some like Purple Royalty beans and Graffiti cauliflower don’t retain the purple color when cooked normally.  Nor do purple potatoes.  They fade to an unappetizing gray.  Steaming the produce or microwaving stops the wash-out effect and most of the purple pigment remains.  Roasting cauliflower and potatoes also retains the tint.

As beautiful as Purple Graffiti cauliflower is, it will fade to gray if boiled or simmered.  Microwave or roast slices to retain the color and all the antioxidants.

The pretty Filius peppers below have a wonderful bluish tinge and produce lovely, small violet-blue fruit that is quite hot. Production is heavy, thus creating a stunning display of color that can’t be missed! Perfect for ornamental landscaping or in pots.

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Filius Peppers: Great for pots and hanging baskets, these small and spicy peppers produce a lovely, small violet-blue fruit and are quite prolific!

Purple Tomatoes

Indigo Rose tomatoes, which I wrote about several weeks ago, also are full of purple pigments with these same antioxidants.  Plants are easy to find in seed catalogs and will be in most garden centers this spring.  I’m betting that we’ll see the tomatoes in grocery stores towards the end of the summer.

Blue Berries Tomatoes offered by Baker Creek are a very dark purple color cherry tomato, which means they are super-rich in anthocyanins. Unripe, the fruit is a glowing amethyst purple. At maturity it turns deep red where the fruit was shaded; the areas that received intense sunshine are a purple so deep it’s almost black!

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Blue Berry cherry tomatoes. The flavor is intensely fruity and sugar-sweet! Plants are very productive, yielding all season in elongated clusters that look so beautiful. 

There are many, many more purple vegetable varieties (just browse seed web sites!). This is an excellent time to order seeds for purple vegetables and incorporate them into your garden. 

Use our new garden planner app to plan your healthy garden, too.  Go to: https://gardenplanner.almanac.com/  and try it!  There’s a short video about how to use the app that will get you started in minutes.

About This Blog

A lifelong gardener shares the endless lessons she’s learned from her garden over the years, in hopes of making your own gardening just that much easier! Read along for advice, photos, and more.

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