Superfoods are foods that have extra disease-fighting benefits than most foods. These foods have antioxidants that boost immunity and promote wellness. Antioxidants have been known to fight free radicals that cause cancer. Beta-carotene is an example of an antioxidant found in many superfoods, and while antioxidants are still being reviewed, research shows that there are health benefits from foods high in phytochemicals. Purple and blue foods in particular, have been shown to reap the most benefits. Five deep blue and purple superfoods that should be included in a daily diet are blueberries, blackberries, purple cabbage, plums and grapes.
Perhaps one of the best superfoods available is the blueberry. The blueberry has been shown in studies published by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) to contain more antioxidants than 40 other fruits and vegetables in the same study. Blueberries contain an antioxidant called ellagic acid, which has been found to not only decrease the risk of cancer, but may also slow down tumor growth.
Blueberries have also been shown to impact Alheizemers disease. Research conducted by the Peninsula Medical School and the University of Reading suggest that flavonoids found in blueberries can enhance memory by improving current neuronal connections and stimulating new connections.
Blackberries are high in fiber and vitamin C, low in fat, and contain no cholesterol. In fact, blueberries are so rich in vitamin C that one cup of blackberries contains 50% of the recommended daily allowance. Additionally the fiber found in blueberries can help decrease coronary heart disease risk by up to 30 percent. The USDA has ranked blueberries 8th out of 100 antioxidant-rich foods.
Plums are one of the less known superfoods. While many people go right for the blueberry or blackberry because of their dark blue and purple colors, plums have actually been found to contain as many antioxidants as blueberries. Scientists from Texas AgriLife Research found that often people do not eat enough blueberries to extract the health benefits. However, one plum contains the necessary amount of daily vitamins to be considered a superfood.
Another less popular superfood is red cabbage. Though the name is misleading, red cabbage is actually considered a purple superfood, and it provides glucosinolates, a type of antioxidant that aids in detoxification. Additionally, red cabbage contains anthocyanins, which have been credited with improving memory. Red cabbage can also aid in weight loss because of its high water and fiber content.
Purple grapes contain high amounts of flavonoids, which can lower heart disease and stroke risk. They contain several nutrients such as vitamin B6, vitamin C, manganese, and potassium. Resveratrol, an antioxidant found in grapes, has been shown to inhibit an enzyme linked to tumor growth and reduce tumor activity.
Though each of these purple and blue foods can provide many health benefits, unless the recommended serving is eaten on a consistent basis, these benefits may not be fully realized. Additionally, buying organic produce can reduce chemical intake, providing a more natural source of these foods. Buying from a local farmer's market will guarantee the foods are more recently picked, thereby providing more of their powerful antioxidants.