Nutripedia is a series of posts designed to help you learn more about the importance of essential nutrients & how to easily incorporate them into your daily life.
WHAT ARE THEY
Anthocyanins are a group of compounds in the flavanoid family that give plants their red, blue and purple hues. Think berries, grapes (red and purple), cherries, and eggplant for example. What I’ve always found interesting is that plants use these compounds to protect themselves from environmental stressors like UV light, cold weather and drought. But these compounds also benefit us humans; they may prevent cardiovascular disease, and cancer, and boost cognitive function. There are over 6,000 of these compounds and scientists are just starting to scratch the surface on their mechanism of actions. Although the literature isn’t sufficient enough to warrant dietary recommendations for anthocyanins, the research we do have demonstrates promising health benefits so eat ’em up.
Red: apples (Red Delicious are highest), strawberries, raspberries, red grapes, cranberries, cherries,
Purple/Black: black raspberries (more anthocyanins than regular raspberries), blackberries, black concord grapes (more anthocyanins than red grapes) eggplant, black currants, red cabbage, purple onion
GET YOUR DAILY OR WEEKLY FIX
If you can’t make it a point to eat these foods daily, then try to get them in at least 3x/week. It’s the frequent consumption of these foods over the lifetime that will benefit you; not the everyday for a week and then not again until 3 months later.
Here are some ways to incorporate these foods into your day:
Frozen. Enjoy berries as they are while summer is still here. But when they aren’t in season, buy them frozen.
Add them to smoothies, oatmeal and yogurt.
Thaw them out and use them as a topping for pancakes and waffles.
Throw them on salads or eat them as a snack with a handful or nuts.
Make purple onions and purple cabbage staples on your grocery list. Very rarely do I cook without onions; they seem to find their into almost anything from stir fry to scrambled eggs to pizza. Use them as a base to cooking veggies, soups, casseroles, etc. When you buy your onions, buy them purple.
Thinly sliced cabbage is a great way to color up a salad or stir fry.
It’s also great used in place of a taco shell or a wrap; check out this Black Bean Butternut Squash Burrito:
Or lightly steam the cabbage leaf and use it as soft wrap:
Apples don’t always have to be eaten raw. Lightly saute them in butter and cinnamon and place them over plain greek yogurt for a delectable but healthy dessert. Apples also pair nicely with brussel sprouts; chop them up and roast them with some brussels for a healthy Fall side dish.