Purple Power!

September 18, 2007 at 10:29 am 13 comments


Unleash the power of purple vegetables! 

The recent death of a neighbor of mine who was diagnosed with cancer just one month ago has got me thinking today about preventative measures for cancer and other devastating health crises.  Eating for health is hardly a new concept, but I think it’s one that a lot of us forget in the daily grind.  It’s so much easier to throw a burger in the microwave and munch on some potato chips while you wait than it is to make a trip to the farm stand to get some fresh produce, bring it home and cook for an hour at the end of your long work day.  The belly rumbles demand instant gratification!  Or so it goes in my experience.

Purple Basil - Use it just like the green variety

Farmer Dave mentioned at the Headhouse Market this weekend that he’d been reading about how purple vegetables contain cancer-fighting nutrients.  I was intrigued – and determined to verify and learn more.   Apparently it’s all about phytochemicals.   These little color-inducers are “any of various bioactive chemical compounds found in plants, as antioxidants, considered to be beneficial to human health”, according to Dictionary.com.  In reading various other sources, my collective definition for phytochemicals is any plant substance/compound that’s not on the generic cereal box list of “daily recommended” vitamins and minerals, but that is scientifically proven to be beneficial to human health and to protect against disease.  Well that clears it all right up, doesn’t it? 

Purple Spring Onions

Science mumbo-jumbo aside, a colorful (natural – not artificially induced) diet means a diverse diet with lots of vegetables and fruits.  Even D’s first grade class knows getting several servings of fruits and veggies each day is important.  What’s so interesting about PURPLE fruits and veggies is that they carry more anthocyanins and phenolics than any other color of produce.  These two antioxidants (that are ultimately a result of a purple crop’s phytochemical signature) have been at the heart of much of the hype over berries, particularly blueberries, as cancer-fighting agents.  Evidence from recent laboratory tests suggests that anthocyanins in particular can noticabely slow the growth of colon cancer cells.  But it’s not just berries… any purple (or blue-ish) produce has a powerful punch of these antioxidants, which are also proven to help urinary tract health, memory loss, and the general effects of aging.   Just last month at the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society, Dr. M. Monical Giusti from the Ohio State University said that purple (and red and blue)  fruits and vegetables “contain many compounds, and we’re just starting to figure out what they are and which ones provide the best health benefits.”

purple peppers and a sprig of oregano

While the scientist figure it all out, Weavers Way Farm is growing several feisty purple crops that will definitely contribute to your longevity one way or another, including  eggplants, purple haze carrots, purple basil, purple beans, purple scallions, beets, radishes and purple peppers.  Others to look for at your local farm stand are blackberries, plumes, prunes, purple/red cabbage, grapes, purple/red onions, figs, purple corn, and purple/blue potatoes.  So even though a recent study by the Produce for Better Health Foundation found that only 3% of Americans’ produce intake is of the purple/blue variety, it’s not for a lack of availability. 

In case you haven’t yet had your fill of the science behind the power of purple veggies, here’s an informative article to read.  Otherwise, start incorporating more purple produce into your diet today with fun and healthful recipes like this one or this one.  Or even this one!  Oh heck, why not one more!  See, it’s easy to get more color in your diet!

Purple Beans



Entry filed under: Extra Credit.

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13 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Panda  |  September 19, 2007 at 10:51 am

    I’m sorry to hear about your neighbor…

  • 2. Jennie  |  September 19, 2007 at 11:04 am

    thank you, Panda. We weren’t terribly close but it is strange to think I’ll never wave good morning to him again. It makes you think, ya know?

  • 3. Panda  |  September 20, 2007 at 2:53 pm

    Definitely. I have a friend recently in remission & as far as I can tell cancer always hits too close to home.

  • 4. Jennie  |  September 21, 2007 at 6:41 am

    How true!

  • 5. figswithbri  |  September 23, 2007 at 12:36 am

    Being a cancer survivor myself, I can say that eating the right foods helped me get through the worst of it. Lots of fruits and veggies are the foundation of a healthy body, even if cancer is the card you get dealt. Thanks for highlighting the importance of good produce and especially fun purple ones. I inadvertantly did a purple post myself here http://figswithbri.com/?p=42
    It’s funny, we write about such a similar topic, and I chose the same template as you. Thanks for a fun site!

  • 6. Brittany  |  September 23, 2007 at 3:29 pm

    It is good that people are getting closer to finding cures for cancer! You are right, it isn’t hard to find purple foods and they are good for you. If everyone would eat a little purple food each day, it would cut down cancer.

  • 7. Jennie  |  September 23, 2007 at 4:42 pm

    thanks for you comments, Figswithbri and Brittany! It sounds like you’re both very familiar with good produce and how important it is. Figswithbri – I’ll check out your site. 🙂

  • 8. Bittersweet « Straight from the Farm  |  October 22, 2007 at 10:21 am

    […] and fiber, among other things?  Since this variety is purple, it also has potential cancer-fighting phytochemicals.  And the addition of toasted pine nuts really rounded out the trio of taste sensations on the […]

  • 9. The Color Purple « Vegan Hodgepodge  |  November 14, 2007 at 11:42 pm

    […] turns out these veggies have purple power in that they contain super duper antioxidants believed to fight […]

  • 10. Colon Cleanse  |  November 21, 2007 at 12:42 pm

    With all the new studies I have started juicing again. Now I will add some purple to my juice:-)))

    great post…Di

  • 11. zoeyfarms  |  April 5, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    Thanks for the purple info. I’m writing our blog today about purple veggies and found yours. I linked you to ours, so my readers could read more.

    I plant purple veggies because I love the color and their color make it easy to pick as they stand out against the green leaves. Thanks again!!
    Su from Zoey Farms (zoeyfarms.wordpress.com)

  • 12. The Color Purple….Veggies, that is. « Zoey Farms  |  April 5, 2010 at 8:16 pm

    […] my research of purple veggies, I found an interesting blog, Straight From the Farm, discussing the nutritional benefits of purple veggies. They say: “What’s so interesting […]

  • 13. Macross  |  July 17, 2010 at 6:29 am

    Do not start adding purple dye or colouring into your food…it wont work…it will kill u rather than benefits…heh heh heh


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