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Eat the Rainbow: Blue, Purple, and Black Foods

by Functional Medicine of Idaho

The term phytonutrient is a broad term for natural compounds found in fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, seeds, and legumes that are responsible for giving plants their distinct color, taste, and smell. Each phytonutrient performs specific activities and modifies different physiological functions in the human body, including protecting the brain from damage and promoting healthy cognition. 

More than 25,000 phytonutrients are found in nature, and they come in all different colors, including blue, purple, and black. If we eat the same foods over and over again, we may be missing out on a wide range of important phytonutrients! It’s important to eat the recommended 9 – 13 servings of fruits and veggies a day, including 1 – 2 servings of blue, purple, or black foods.

Blue, Purple, and Black Food Health Benefits

This vibrant group of fruits and vegetables get their color from the phytonutrient anthocyanin. There have been many health benefits linked with eating anthocyanin-rich foods, including: 

  • Anti-cancer
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Blood vessel health
  • Bone health
  • Brain health
  • Cell protection
  • Cognitive health
  • Digestive health
  • Heart health
  • Liver health

Ideas for Incorporating More Blue, Purple, and Black Foods Into Your Diet

Because there are fewer blue, black, and purple foods to choose from, this color group often gets forgotten. You may need to make an intentional effort to eat them regularly.

  1. Add berries to your morning smoothie⁠⁠, yogurt, oatmeal, or pancakes
  2. ⁠⁠Try purple carrots instead of orange carrots⁠⁠
  3. Add purple cabbage to your salad⁠⁠
  4. Substitute black or purple rice for white rice⁠⁠
  5. Try purple kale instead of the usual green kale
  6. Add shredded purple cabbage to a salad
  7. Snack on figs, plums, raisins, or berries
  8. Add eggplant, purple potatoes, or purple rice to a stir fry

Blue, Purple, and Black Fruits

  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Boysenberries
  • Figs 
  • Grapes 
  • Huckleberries
  • Marionberries
  • Plums 
  • Prunes 
  • Raisins 

Blue, Purple, and Black Vegetables

  • Black olives
  • Eggplant
  • Purple bell peppers
  • Purple cabbage
  • Purple carrots
  • Purple cauliflower
  • Purple kale
  • Purple potatoes

Blue, Purple, and Black Rice

  • Black rice
  • Purple rice


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