All I could notice at the farmers market this weekend was the color purple. It reminded me of my high school English teacher, who asked us to look out for the color in nature. We were reading The Color Purple by Alice Walker in class. All of us agreed that purple was a rare color in nature. Though, I completely disagree with that conclusion now.
I have always kept Mrs. Kindle’s observation in mind and subconsciously seek out the color purple wherever I go. The color purple is everywhere, especially at the farmers market – year round. Fruits, vegetables, and plants get the purple pigmentation from anthocyanins, which are antioxidants. Antioxidants are molecules that prevent oxidation (which is what happens when a sliced apple turns brown). Oxidation causes free radicals to form and free radicals cause damage and death to cells. Some free radicals are formed through natural processes, but free radicals can “spiral” out of control and disrupt living cells. To put it in a very simple manner, when the levels of free radicals in your body become disproportionate (due to aging, poor eating and lifestyle choices, and environmental triggers) disease and cancer happens.
Antioxidants protect your body from the harmful effects of free radicals. Eating foods rich in antioxidants prevent and delay cell damage, which in turn prevent cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and immune dysfunction. Luckily, there are plenty of fruits and vegetables that are rich in antioxidants available year round. It’s important to eat a variety of foods, because not all foods contain all the antioxidants your body needs. Supplements do not provide the same benefits as eating whole foods do. Antioxidants in purple foods particularly help boost memory, slow down the aging process, prevent heart disease, and prevent and shorten the duration of colds.
Other purple foods by season:
Dates, grapes, potatoes and olives
Beets, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, endives, kale, kohlrabi, lambsquarter, lettuce, orachi, and radicchio