Purple foods are seeing a resurgence from farmers and that translates to us seeing them in grocery stores. The significant number of purple foods (such as heirloom carrots, cauliflower, potatoes, purple cabbage, etc.) available at the grocery store, creates a larger selection of healthy options to put on your plate. These foods offer great health benefits, and they make a perfect addition to your daily diet. Purple berries are not unusual, but a purple cauliflower or heirloom carrot will make you stop and take a second look, and perhaps encourage you to place it in your shopping cart.

Studies, such as Soyoung Lims’ Kansas State University Study in 2009 (http://www.k-state.edu/media/newsreleases/jun09/sweetpotato62909.html), show the purple colored sweet potato to have higher levels of cancer fighting properties. Lim goes on to say that the high purple pigment is called anthocyanin and that one of the beneficial components of anthocyanin is antioxidants. Antioxidants help to keep us healthier and younger by inhibiting the destruction caused by oxidation (free radicals).

Antioxidants also reduce inflammation. When we reduce inflammation in the body, we excel toward exponential levels of recovery. Inflammation is one of the main road blocks to our body’s ability to maintain a good standard of physical health and mental well-being.

Been talked out of enjoying potatoes? Well fight back and buy purple potatoes! Their high level of anti-oxidants can rival spinach, kale, and brussel sprouts.

Another benefit of purple and other dark foods is they are full of phytonutrients that keep our blood’s super highway constantly under repair, so our blood is on time for its job. Good blood flow repairs and inspires our bodies to new heights. It really is the very foods we eat, that will determine how we behave and react in any given circumstance in our day.

Ingredients matter because we are what we eat. Living a healthier lifestyle includes adding more color to your plate in the form of vegetables. Next time you have a choice to purchase purple produce, like heirloom carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, or the not so common mangosteen, go ahead and buy it. Not interested in those, then why not try the more readily available dark cherries, berries and figs, grapes and plums, red cabbage, purple asparagus, onions, potatoes, yams, corn, and peppers. We haven’t even mentioned the lettuces yet; you’ll find a plethora of purple and dark varieties available.

Taking the time to eat a well-balanced meal that is prepared from a garden variety of ingredients can be a lifestyle change in today’s world of prepared foods. Try enjoying roasted heirloom carrots which can aid in balancing glucose to help reduce diabetic symptoms. Making a change to purple cauliflower instead of broccoli one or two nights a week can increase your body’s ability to release toxins and aid in healthier cells to stave off cancer.

Dark foods such as beans and lentils and black rice also offer a wonderful benefit to your kidneys along with your taste buds. Make black bean burgers instead of meat burgers to improve overall digestion and reduce Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms. Or perhaps make a black rice salad with shaved black garlic and all the fixings of a corn salsa and this high fiber meal could help you see a reduction of arterial plaque.

There are so many wonderful examples of dark foods and some we too often don’t think about as being food, like chia seeds or poppy seeds. These little guys pack a mean punch and are another way to add dark ingredients in your diet. Chia seeds can be soaked to make a pudding, or ground to make a flour and poppy seeds are the perfect addition to a granola or muffin recipe. One of my favorite discoveries is a raw, dark, heirloom pumpkin seed. They are twice the size of normal pumpkin seeds and that much more flavorful.

Nature packs nutrition into foods and while there are always exceptions to the rule, darker foods are better for us. When we talk about darker foods, those would be items grown from the ground, not dyed with food coloring. While purple produce offers levels of healing, food coloring causes degeneration, so don’t be confused about the source of color on your plate. To make sure you know the purple food you have chosen is the healthy option, make sure there is just one ingredient listed on the container if you are not shopping in the produce department.

Find it hard to get your hands on locally grown produce? Don’t give up, all of the produce we talked about can be grown around your house in pots or buckets. Enjoy planting heirloom carrot seeds or purple potatoes and watch how they grow over three months.

Whatever your level of interest, taking the time to insure you get the most nutrition you can from each bite should always be your goal. Offering the body, a plethora of purple produce changes the old saying from once on the lips, forever on the hips, to forever on my lips for the perfect hips.

Ms. Deena was coined The Deceptive Chef by her clients for making their favorite childhood dishes healthy, decadent and without gluten, dairy, sugar, or soy. She has studied the impact of ingredients in processed foods on health for two decades. She teaches deceptively delicious, healthy recipes because ingredients matter!