When it comes to healthy aging, anthocyanins and antioxidants play a critical role in keeping your cells healthy and warding off cancer, cardiovascular disease and cognitive decline.
Anthocyanins are a group of compounds in the flavonoid family (flavonoids, isoflavones, etc.) and are what give foods like grapes, red cabbage and berries a blue, red or purple hue. They are thought to be powerful antioxidants that help damaged cells repair themselves. They also appear to reduce arterial stiffness and lower blood pressure to help reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
While researchers cannot pinpoint exactly how anthocyanins prevent cancer cells from reproducing, the fact that they do is reason enough to be eating blue and purple foods regularly.
Antioxidants are generous nutrients that give molecules missing an electron (known as free radicals) one of their own. This has the effect of neutralizing the cell-damaging molecules and keeping cells healthy. Getting plenty of antioxidants in your diet helps reverse sun damage, dampen inflammation and contribute to healthy aging.
Put Out the Fire
Chronic inflammation due to environmental pollutants, an unhealthy diet of high fat, high carbohydrate junk foods and even daily life stressors can be a major cause of disease in this country. Inflammation damages your heart, and makes you more susceptible to cardiovascular disease. In the brain, inflammation over a long period of time leads to cognitive decline like short-term memory loss and dementia. The compounds in purple and blue superfoods douse the flames like water by lowering levels of C-reactive protein in the blood, a common marker for acute inflammation, and allow the body to heal.
The Ultimate List of Blue and Purple Superfoods
Lucky for us there are many rich sources of anthocyanins and antioxidants in a wide variety of blue and purple foods. Below is a list of the best ones to add to your meals for healthy aging:
- Berries –blue, red, black or raspberries these sweet juicy little fruits are good and good for you. They are rich in antioxidants like vitamins A, C and E as well as good sources of fiber and other nutrients.
- Grapes – also of the berry family, the purple variety has been linked to living longer. This is thanks to a compound called resveratrol. Sweet and juicy but very low calorie, eating grapes, nature’s candy, is a good way to slow down the aging process.
- Plums- they are not as popular as berries and grapes, but they should be if you are interested in health aging. Plums have a long list of healthy compounds and nutrients including vitamins A, C, beta-carotene, potassium and iron. They are also low in calories and high in fiber so put a few in your grocery cart.
- Bilberry – these European cousins to the blueberry are known on this side of the pond as huckleberries. For decades they have been taken to improve eyesight, fight inflammation and lower blood pressure. The potent flavonoids in them support cardiovascular health too.
Color Your World
It’s important to have a colorful diet for healthy aging to lower your risk of many age related diseases like heart disease, arthritis, stroke, and cancer. Eating blue and purple superfoods is one easy way to brighten up your diet and keep you feeling healthy.