Nutritionists have been telling us to eat more coloured foods for some time, but now we’re being urged to concentrate on the darker end of the rainbow spectrum. So far, hard scientific proof is in somewhat short supply, but the anthocyanins that give fruit and vegetables their dark red and purple colours are thought to play a role in reducing the danger of everything from heart disease to cancer. Anthocyanins are found in blueberries, goji berries, blackberries and elderberries, purple cabbage, blackcurrants, red wine, aubergine, dark-coloured figs and plums (though not in beetroot). Keen foodies have also been discovering, or rediscovering, the joys of purple carrots, asparagus and potatoes, not to mention purple rice. You can even buy purple cornflakes, courtesy of American organic outfits like Back to the Roots, which, naturally, are ‘stoneground on an old stonemill in San Francisco’. Though it’s not clear whether the health-giving qualities of purple food are entirely thanks to anthocyanins or other micronutrients and bioactives that they’re mixed with, nutritional scientist Dr Ana Rodriguez-Mateos, of King’s College London, is cautiously optimistic. ‘More studies are needed to confirm the findings,’ she says, ‘but consistent evidence exists on some health effects of anthocyanin-rich extracts and supplements.’ Purple platters here we come.
Pictured, purple corn kernels, purple potato, sweet potato ice cream (from Ruby Violet), purple rice, purple carrots, blueberries, purple asparagus, blackberries, aubergine, grapes, and purple cornflour
Photography: Aaron Tilley. Writer: Christopher Stocks. Food stylist: Lucy-Ruth Hathaway