Up-close of purple beets

Purple is the New Green

2017 food trend encourages deeply-pigmented vegetables on your plate

The familiar phrase “eat your greens” may soon change to reflect one of 2017’s biggest food trends: the colour purple. It’s a well-known fact that colourful fruits and veggies are good for you. They’re high in phytonutrients, those compounds including flavonoids and pigments that naturally protect and enrich plants. Phytonutrients such as carotenoids and chlorophyll are responsible for the dark orange and green colouring of carrots and spinach, respectively. Similarly, anthocyanin gives purple cabbage, chard, plums, and berries their rich purple and blue hues.

While we don’t know everything about the benefits of phytonutrients in our diet, it is well documented that anthocyanins in purple foods have an antioxidant effect. They are known to fight disease, keep you looking younger, reduce inflammation, and help protect your heart.

So why the focus on purple foods as of late? It’s simple: globally, we are becoming more and more health-conscious. Shoppers are reading labels more carefully, researching food online, following foodies on social media, and choosing what they put in their cart or basket more carefully than ever. This thirst for knowledge around healthy food has led us to an understanding that colour is better when it comes to food. Nature has a way of calling attention to the nutritional gems it creates and purple is eye-catching for just that reason – you should eat it!

On the Island, there are lots of ways to increase your consumption of purple foods whether you’re shopping at the farmers’ market or grocery store. For produce, try some stewed purple cabbage, grilled purple asparagus, roasted purple sweet potato, or top your pizza with pickled red onions.

Large bunch of small purple eggplants

Purple eggplants (small).

If you’re a baker, there are many spots on the Island that you can forage beautiful black and red currants for your next berry pie. On the packaged foods side, you can pick up a bag of black rice (also known as forbidden rice), which is known to have a mild and nutty flavour that pairs well with seafood dishes. For a better-for-you snack, try a bag of root vegetable chips. They offer a great selection of red-, blue-, and purple-tinted crisps that are a perfect balance of sweet and salty, contributing a larger dose of healthy phytonutrients than your standard potato chip.

As with all food trends, social media plays a role and the colour purple is no different. If you haven’t caught onto the instagrammable #smoothiebowl or #acaibowl, show off your passion for purple by blitzing up blueberries, yogurt, and ice, ditching the glass and filling up a bowl instead. Add toppings that lend a textural contrast, like crunchy coconut granola or a silky drizzle of local Island honey. Picture perfect purple!

Of course, all the colours of the rainbow are worthy of your consideration when it comes to eating for wellness, so be sure to pair your purples up with some bright greens, stunning yellows, and fresh oranges. Your palate, mind, and body will not be disappointed!

About Emilee Sorrey

Emilee Sorrey is a musician and marketer with a foods & nutrition foundation. She lives and works in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.

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