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The Nutritional Benefits of Purple Fruits and Vegetables

May 13, 2021

Mom told you to eat your veggies. Make antioxidant-rich purple foods part of that healthy diet.

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Photo: W. Atlee Burpee Company

Kale 'Scarlet'

Nutritionists tell us to eat a rainbow of foods, so put some purple on your plate. Many purple foods are high in antioxidants thought to control or prevent certain kinds of cell damage. Toss 'Scarlet’ kale into salads, soups and stir-frys, or sautee or braise it. For eating fresh, pick the frilly, reddish-purple leaves when they're young.

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Photo: AP Whaley Seed Co/National Garden Bureau

Tomato 'Indigo Cherry Drops'

Cooking leaches out the antioxidants in most foods, but it increases the concentration of these healthful substances in tomatoes. 'Indigo Cherry Drops’ tomatoes are small fruits with a purplish-black cast on their red skins. The plants are indeterminate and bear heavily in about 65 days.

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Photo: W. Atlee Burpee Company

Concord Grapes

Bluish-purple Concord grapes are high in antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin, and the American Optometric Association says these substances can reduce your risk of eye diseases like cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Snack on fresh grapes or turn them into delicious jellies, juices and pies. Concord vines are hardy in USDA Zones 5-8.

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Photo: Ball Horticultural Company

Asparagus 'Purple Passion'

Gourmet chefs say 'Purple Passion’ asparagus has a mild, nutty flavor when cooked, but thanks to this variety’s higher-than-usual sugar content, it tastes sweet when eaten fresh. These smoky-purple spears are a great source of anthocyanins (pigments with antioxidant properties that give fruits and vegetables their purple, red or blue colors). Plant asparagus where you want it to stay; these perennial plants can grow for 20 years or more.

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